A first for Irish as diplomat meets Pope
THE country's first non- resident ambassador to the Holy See yesterday presented his diplomatic credentials to Pope Benedict.
The Foreign Affairs Minister and Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore, upset Catholic Church leaders last year when he announced the closure of the Holy See embassy. The reason given for the closure of one of Ireland's oldest missions, dating back to 1929, was to save money.
David Cooney, the secretary-general at the Department of Foreign Affairs, was selected as the first non-residential ambassador. The top diplomat will retain his post in Dublin and will travel to Rome as required.
The Government has indicated the possibility of reopening the embassy to the Holy See in the future on a more modest basis if the financial situation improves.
It is estimated that closing the embassy will save €400,000 this year and a further €845,000 in 2013.