Europe

Samantha Power: Irish-born woman chosen for UN role

Samantha Power and Barack Obama
Image caption President Obama announced the nomination of Samantha Power as UN ambassador at the White House

An Irish-born woman has been nominated by President Barack Obama as the next US ambassador to the United Nations.

Samantha Power was born in Dublin in 1970 and lived there until she was nine, when her family moved to the US.

The ex-White House adviser is a Harvard academic, a former war correspondent and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

She was a key adviser to Mr Obama during his 2008 election campaign but resigned after calling Hillary Clinton a "monster" in comments to a reporter.

Ms Power made the remark to the Scotsman newspaper in March 2008, but later expressed "deep regret" saying it was "inexcusable".

'Principled leadership'

The 42-year-old was later appointed to an adviser role in the White House, as a senior member of Mr Obama's national security team.

Announcing her nomination as the next UN ambassador, the president described her as one of America's "foremost thinkers on foreign policy".

He urged the US Senate to confirm her nomination to the post without delay, in order to "ensure that we have the principled leadership we need at the United Nations".

Accepting her nomination, Ms Power said: "It would be an incomparable privilege to earn the support of the Senate and to play a role in this essential effort, one on which our common security and common humanity depend."

'Irish brogue'

She grew up in the Dublin suburb of Castleknock and moved to Pittsburgh with her parents in 1979.

Speaking alongside the president at a White House news conference on Wednesday, Ms Power recalled her emigration to the US and her childhood efforts to lose her Irish accent.

She said: "I remember very little about landing in Pittsburgh, except that I was sure I was at the largest airport in the history of the world. I do remember what I was wearing, a red, white and blue Stars and Stripes T-shirt. It was the T-shirt I always wore in Ireland on special occasions.

"Even as a little girl with a thick Dublin accent who had never been to America, I knew that the American flag was the symbol of fortune and of freedom. But I quickly came to learn that to find opportunity in this country, one didn't actually need to wear the flag, one just needed to try to live up to it.

"For the next three months, I came home from school every day, as my mother can attest, my dad can attest, and I sat in front of the mirrors for hours, straining to drop my brogue so that I, too, could quickly speak and be American."

Human rights

As a war correspondent, Ms Power has reported for several US media organisations from conflicts Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

She won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2003 for her book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

The mother-of-two has served as a Harvard professor, lecturing on US foreign policy, human rights, and extremism.

She is set to replace the current UN ambassador, Susan Rice, who Mr Obama has appointed as his national security adviser.

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