Riley's Staff Downplays Irish Rumors

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Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has no plans to leave the Department of Education to become ambassador to Ireland, according to his staff.

Rumors of the 65-year-old secretary's possible departure have resurfaced in recent weeks, amid news reports that he is one of President Clinton's top choices, and possibly the sentimental favorite, to fill the post.

In an April 29 article in TheBoston Globe, Mr. Riley, a Methodist, hinted that he might consider a job in the predominantly Roman Catholic Irish Republic. "I think anybody who loves Ireland, if other things permitted, would cherish the opportunity of going to Phoenix Park," the location of the U.S. Embassy, he said. "And I am among those average Irish folks who would put that as a great opportunity."

Mr. Riley's spokeswoman, Julie Green, downplayed the recent speculation. "We are remaining here," she said last week. "Any good Irish-American would be flattered to have the job, but he's making no plans to leave."

A White House spokeswoman, Estela Mendoza, said the executive branch would not confirm the names of any candidates for the position. The current ambassador, Jean Kennedy Smith, will step down in July.

Mr. Riley's five years at the helm of the Education Department have won him the admiration of many. But rumors of his departure have circulated repeatedly.

"The man deserves a vacation," said Bruce Hunter, a senior associate executive director of the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va.


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