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Rooney says he's staying in Ireland

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Saying he's pleased with his accomplishments as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Steelers' patriarch Dan Rooney said Monday he has no plans on coming home soon.

Dan Rooney, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland and the football team's chairman emeritus, was quoted in the Irish Times yesterday saying he plans to resign his foreign post in time to work on President Obama's re-election campaign.

"Some readers have drawn the incorrect conclusion from my comments," Rooney said in a prepared statement today. "I was asked what I could do to help President Obama in the next election and I responded that the best thing I could do would be to help him campaign. Were I to do so, it would require my resignation as ambassador to Ireland. However, I am very pleased with my accomplishments to date and I intend to continue to carry out my duties."

Since taking the job in July 2009, Rooney has been known for working hard -- trying, for instance, to hold a town hall meeting in every county of Ireland -- and he has hinted at how much he misses his family and time around the Steelers. Rooney and his wife, Patricia, have 17 grandchildren in the United States.

A highlight of Rooney's tenure in Ireland would be Obama's visit to that country next month. Rooney has been pushing for such a visit since he first met the president when he was just a candidate for office in September 2007. Rooney emerged as a major player in that election when he made a surprisingly vocal endorsement.

"I told (Obama), ‘You gotta go to Ireland,' " Rooney told the Times. "He said, ‘I will, and I'll go with you.' "

The Obama trip would play very well with Irish Americans, he added.

"They'll say, ‘Gee – he's gone to Ireland. Our immigrants – mother and father, grandfathers – that's where they came from. It's nice for him to be going back,' " Rooney said.

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