Wednesday 21 March 2018

Kenny stands firm on Vatican embassy closure

Lise Hand

Lise Hand

The Taoiseach reiterated in Rome yesterday the Government's decision to close Ireland's embassy to the Holy See.

Standing outside the Italian prime minister's office -- only a short distance from the Villa Spada which until recently was the residence of our ambassador to the Vatican -- Mr Kenny stood firm on the controversial closure which was announced last year.

"As the Tanaiste pointed out, all government decisions are reviewed on an occasional basis and every year the Department of Foreign Affairs and the minister always look at the consular offices of the diplomatic services, the European missions in individual countries and that's the normal process of government. So there's no change of position," he said.

The Taoiseach's statement is in harmony with that of the Tanaiste. Mr Gilmore repeated recently that the decision not to have a resident ambassador would "not be reversed in the immediate term''.

Controversy has raged since the Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore announced last November the closure of three embassies -- in Iran, East Timor and Vatican City -- as part of raising money to meet the demands of the troika.

The Government claim that the decision not to have a diplomatic residence in the Holy See could save about €600,000 a year. David Cooney, secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, has been appointed as a "non-resident" ambassador.

But the move sparked anger in some quarters. Earlier this week, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, described the closure as "a mistake," but he also added that "it was time to move on".

Irish Independent

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