Tuesday 21 October 2014

Nothing to see here - conspiracy theorists left to starve

Published 22/01/2014 | 02:30

Eamon Gilmore says he is impressed what Pope Francis has said about tackling poverty.
Eamon Gilmore says he is impressed what Pope Francis has said about tackling poverty.

THIS one has potential for those who like their political conspiracies. However, both sides were on their best behaviour and determined to starve the conspiracists.

In November 2011, during a trough in government relations with the Catholic Church, Eamon Gilmore announced that, for cost reasons, Ireland would close the Vatican Embassy. Cue indignation, outcry and a strong campaign by Fine Gael TDs and senators.

Things rumbled on, and early last month, Mr Gilmore almost said he would re-open the embassy with talk of expanding Ireland's diplomatic missions abroad "and looking at the Vatican in that context".

Yesterday, at the Cabinet meeting, there were smiles on the faces of some Fine Gael ministers as Mr Gilmore presented his expanded embassy network plan. There, amid the various announcements, was the re-opening of a Vatican embassy.

Could this be 'payback' for Taoiseach Enda Kenny agreeing a referendum on gay marriage next year? The prospect of same-gender 'marriage', as opposed to civil partnership, irked much the same group of Fine Gaelers who were annoyed at the Vatican closure.

Interestingly, back in February 2012, when Lucinda Creighton was still in the government fold, she predicted that the Vatican Embassy would be restored "within two years". She was right.

But nobody in Fine Gael was going to claim victory on this yesterday - not even quietly.

Fine Gael Clare TD Pat Breen, who chairs the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, dismissed any link between the two topics and brushed aside claims of triumphalism within his party. "This is quite simply a good development. The Vatican is a huge hub of diplomatic information - it is good for Ireland to be there," Mr Breen insisted.

Nobody in Labour was going to take this one on either. The Pope was an excellent ally - if not alibi - for both parties on this one. In keeping with his frugal papacy, Ireland's restored embassy will be a simple one-person operation.

There was an added bonus for the Government as tributes arrived first from Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin and the Papal Nuncio, Dr Charles Brown. P

Even Fianna Fail could only manage a half-sour note. They said it was a government U-turn - but a welcome one.

Irish Independent

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