Tuesday 23 January 2018

Vatican embassy costs same as bathroom revamp

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan

Gordon Deegan

The cost of running the Irish Embassy in the Vatican last year was similar to the bill for the recent renovation of two bathrooms at our Paris embassy.

New figures provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, reveal that it cost the State €32,461 to operate the recently reopened embassy at the Holy See.

The spend - which represent a tiny fraction of the State's overall €61m embassy bill in 2014 - is just €1,549 more than the €30,912 the State spent on renovating two bathrooms at its Paris embassy last year.

Other standout bills included one from Jakarta in Indonesia, where costs topped €680,000, and the little-known Lilongwe, capital of Malawi, where €842,705 was spent.

The Beijing embassy cost in excess of €2m, including a spending spree of €82,421 over 21 days in the lead-up to the week-long state visit by President Michael D Higgins to China in December.

The costs - which were provided in a written Dail response to Deputy Sean Crowe (SF) - includes staff costs, office costs, building rental and/or maintenance and other overheads.

The Government decision in November 2011 to shut down the Holy See embassy sparked controversy and was seen as a snub to the Catholic Church.

In January of last year, the Government announced that it would reopen the embassy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs stated that the new embassy would be a "modest", one-person operation, in keeping with the desire of Pope Francis for "a poor church for the poor".

Last May, the Government appointed Emma Madigan to the role of Holy See ambassador.

Irish Independent

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