Monday 23 April 2018

Johnny Fallon: The Vatican embassy row has touched a raw nerve with a rural constituency that is only now finding its voice

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Getty Images

MANY people have expressed surprise at how the issue of the Vatican embassy has remained so high on the agenda in recent weeks. In particular people are surprised at the reaction among many Fine Gael TDs who seem to want the embassy re-opened.

Of course, many people view the issue through a particular prism or see it as an isolated decision. That is not where the TD’s who have raised it are coming from. Looked at in simple economic terms the true financial value of any embassy could be called into question, never mind one to a tiny state with no real economy. Therefore closing it should not be any issue at all and entirely at the discretion of the government. But symbolism has a lot more to do with it than that.

Let’s forget all the arguments as to why an embassy anywhere is necessary as in reality we can certainly survive without one to the Vatican. The problem is that it has become something of a pressure point in what is a war of messaging for the government. A large proportion of the Irish population are no longer practising Catholics, they resent much of the catholic influence on the state. This is gradually being rolled back. The vast majority of the population including most Catholics find the behaviour of the Church in how it dealt with paedophiles and how it ran institutions reprehensible.

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