Liam Fay: Turning the other cheek? No, Vatican embassy U-turn is just opportunism
Born Again Christians call it The Rapture, that moment of ecstasy during the end-times when the Righteous will be assumed into Heaven. Throughout the darkest depths of the economic crisis, the Irish people were assured by government that an earthly version of this rapturous bliss would eventually be theirs. One day, we were told, the weeping and gnashing of teeth would cease and the faithful would be rewarded for their sacrifices. Last week, that day finally dawned and the beleaguered inhabitants of this valley of tears were bestowed with a gift that makes it all worthwhile: a new embassy in the Vatican.
The Coalition's rush to re-establish a diplomatic mission to the Holy See – barely two years after the previous embassy was closed – sends out a confusing message, and ministers have struggled to find a coherent explanation for the U-turn. "This is not a U-turn," said Eamon Gilmore, always the most deadpan of the cabinet's comedic performers.
Other government spokespeople sought to clothe the climb-down in high-minded virtue. Pope Francis was repeatedly name-checked, and there has been lofty talk about Ireland's support for the Vatican's opposition to war, hunger and pestilence. Together, it seems, we are on the side of the angels.