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Kerry names former senator Gary Hart as Northern Ireland envoy

Former senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.) at a Georgetown University foreign policy discussion last year. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As expected, Secretary of State John Kerry named former senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.) on Tuesday as his “personal representative” in a new round of “talks to achieve a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.”

Kerry, in a statement,  said Hart, a longtime friend, had “spent many weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland over the past 30 years” and “knows many of the leaders.”

As we noted in an Oct. 3 post on this move, Northern Ireland has been something of a back-burner issue in Washington after the “Troubles” — decades of violent clashes from the late ’60s to the late ’90s between those favoring union with Ireland and those wishing to stay in the United Kingdom finally ended.

But experts have warned that the relative calm is tenuous. Former Northern Ireland envoy Richard Haass, speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March, noted “concrete barriers [still] separating communities” and, in”that kind of environment,” without further political progress, “violence . . . could very well re-emerge as a characteristic of daily life.”

Hart is expected to visit Belfast before the end of the month.