Ambassador Claire Cronin? Join the club. 

A REPORT THAT state Rep. Claire Cronin is poised to be named US ambassador to Ireland had the state’s political world buzzing on Wednesday. 

While there was plenty of chatter about Cronin’s possible diplomatic appointment — which was reported by the website IrishCentral — the idea of a US ambassador to Ireland from Massachusetts should hardly be a surprise. If Cronin is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, she would be the 15th US ambassador to Ireland since the Carter administration took office in 1977. Of those, six — or 40 percent — claimed Massachusetts roots. 

“It’s a tribute to the Bay State’s green power,” said Brian O’Connor, a veteran watcher of Massachusetts politics and Irish affairs who served as an aide to Rep. Joseph Kennedy II in the 1980s and 90s. 

When it comes to the percentage of the population with Irish ancestry, Massachusetts claims three of the top 10 counties in the US — Plymouth, Barnstable, and Norfolk. And we run neck and neck with New Hampshire for the top spot in the ranking of states with the greatest share of overall population claiming Irish roots at just under 20 percent. 

But beyond the sheer demographic tilt toward Hibernian heritage, O’Connor said ties to Ireland are baked into the state’s landscape and history.

Massachusetts is a regular stop for the Taoiseach — Ireland’s prime minister — on any trip to the US and was one of the first places Irish republican leader Gerry Adams visited when his visa was approved to travel to the US, O’Connor said. The nonprofit American Ireland Fund maintains an office in Boston, as does the Rian Immigrant Center, formerly known as the Irish International Immigrant Center. 

Cronin, an Easton Democrat who served as House chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee before being named House majority leader earlier this year, led Joe Biden’s Massachusetts campaign and announced the state’s delegate votes during last summer’s Democratic National Convention. 

She did not return a phone message or email on Wednesday asking about the possible diplomatic nomination.

An attorney who grew up in Brockton, Cronin comes from a family steeped in local politics. In a CommonWealth interview earlier this year she said she’s the third generation of her family to serve in the Massachusetts House. Her election in 2012 followed in the footsteps of a great-uncle who served in the 1920s and an uncle who was in the House in the late 1940s before going on to serve as mayor of Brockton. 

Cronin’s background is as a mediator, which could prove very helpful if she is tapped for the Ireland ambassador’s post. Tensions in neighboring Northern Ireland have been boiling over recently in the worst unrest in years following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement aimed at ending the “Troubles” there. 

The five US ambassadors to Ireland with Massachusetts ties since the Carter administration are: William Shannon (1977-81), Margaret Heckler (1986-89), William FitzGerald (1992-93), Jean Kennedy Smith (1993-98), and Richard Egan (2001-03).

The state’s strong connections to Ireland reach back to the founding of the independent state there a century ago. In 1919, Eamon de Valera, a leader of the republican fight, came to Boston where he spoke at Fenway Park to a crowd of some 50,000 local supporters of the independence cause. 

The enormous Boston rally and speech by de Valera, who went on to serve as the Taoiseach and president of Ireland, marked an “inflection point” in the relationship between the US and Ireland, according to an account of the event by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. 

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Biden weighs in on Mass.-NH tax dispute: The president’s administration urged the US Supreme Court not to take up New Hampshire’s constitutional challenge to Massachusetts’ claim that it can tax out-of-state residents working remotely for Bay State companies.

  • The administration’s brief doesn’t side with Gov. Charlie Baker on the substance of the case. Instead, the brief argues that New Hampshire residents upset at being taxed should make their case in Massachusetts courts — not the US Supreme Court.
  • The case could have huge implications, particularly if remote work continues post-pandemic. Fourteen states have weighed in on the side of New Hampshire, arguing that out-of-state residents cannot be regarded as working in Massachusetts if they don’t set foot inside the state.
  • “Although New Hampshire might prefer that its residents not pay personal income taxes to any government, an independent tax obligation falling on a State’s residents generally is not an injury to that State’s own sovereign prerogatives,” the Biden brief argues.

Read more.

Soap opera continues: The same judge who denied Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White’s bid to block his firing agreed to put her order on hold while he appeals. That means the White saga — and acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey’s push to fire him — will go on. White is facing dismissal because of allegations of abuse against his wife and niece that go back more than 20 years. Read more.

I-90 Allston questions: In the high-stakes debate over the $1 billion-plus I-90 Allston project, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak and then-transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack seemed to be bending the facts last fall. Here’s what we know:

  • Pollack and Poftak last fall said a popular all-at-grade solution to rebuilding transportation infrastructure on a narrow stretch of land between Boston University and the Charles River would cost a lot more than another competing approach because it would have required the construction of a new $300 million commuter rail maintenance facility. Poftak and Pollack said they wouldn’t move forward with the maintenance facility unless the all-at-grade approach was selected. 
  • This week, however, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a $9 million contract to move forward with the initial design of the maintenance facility. Briefing materials submitted to the board indicated the selection of the contractor had begun long before Poftak and Pollack made their statements last fall, raising questions about their veracity.
  • The T is now saying that, long term, it needs the maintenance facility to handle the expected growth of the commuter rail network.

Read more.

Caregiver abuse registry: A new state registry to track caregivers who have abused people with disabilities is on track to launch in July, after a six-month delay. The law creating the registry is named for Cheryl Chan’s son, Nicky, who was beaten by a caregiver at a day program for people with intellectual disabilities. Read more.

Film tax credit showdown: The House in its budget proposal voted to eliminate the sunset date on the state’s film tax credit, while the Senate in its budget is poised to extend the sunset date four years and pare back the benefits and cost. Toss in the fact that preserving the film tax credit is a high priority of House Speaker Ron Mariano and the stage is set for some interesting budget negotiations between the two branches. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Restaurant industry leaders are slamming Gov. Charlie Baker for filing a bill extending some pandemic rules to help restaurants, but not including a cocktails-to-go provision or extending a cap on third-party delivery fees. (Boston Herald

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Holyoke’s new acting mayor rescinds an order by former Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse that declared racism and police violence to be public health concerns and pushed to create a citizen advisory board to oversee the police. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts reports 3,000 “breakthrough” COVID infections in fully vaccinated people, or 0.12 percent of vaccinated people. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Lots of people credit successful efforts to block new highways with maintaining the vitality of Boston neighborhoods, but can removing existing highways in other cities have a similar revitalizing effect? (New York Times

ELECTIONS

The six Boston mayoral candidates held their first in-person debate, answering questions about public safety issues at the Suffolk County House of Correction. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Business will return to almost normal at the state’s three casinos this weekend with the lifting of capacity limits and of mask rules for vaccinated visitors. (State House News Service)

Former Boston city councilor Mike Ross says the post-pandemic world should include a shift to a four-day work week. (Boston Globe

EDUCATION

The Globe takes a look inside the unlicensed counseling organization that had a contract for years to work with Boston Public Schools students, some of whom now allege they faced emotional abuse from the group. 

A Massachusetts teacher was secretly penning white nationalist essays using a pseudonym. (HuffPost)

ARTS/CULTURE

A memorial sculpture honoring Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King cleared the last city approval needed before construction can begin on Boston Common. (Associated Press) 

TRANSPORTATION

JetBlue is resuming commercial flights from Worcester regional airport to New York and Florida. (Telegram & Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A judge rules that a Haverhill marijuana shop must pay its $356,000 community impact fee to the town, even as litigation continues over whether the town should be required to document what impacts the fees are meant to cover. (Eagle-Tribune)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe is creating a four-person team to cover climate change. (Media Nation)

PASSINGS

Eric Carle, the children’s book author and illustrator who wrote “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” dies at 91 at his summer studio in Northampton. (Associated Press)