Closing Irish embassies

Sir, No one needs to be reminded that our Nation is suffering through an economic calamity.

Cutbacks are following cutbacks and there seems to be no end in sight to this catastrophe. This crisis is made worse by the fact that many of us disagree on where those cuts should fall. Made worse again, that neither can we agree on where the extra money, to lessen the cuts, should come from.

Are things going to get worse? Almost certainly. Will we continue to disagree on the best course of action? Definitely. Is there anything we can decide to support? Well, I think there is. We can at least agree that closing unneeded embassies is a worthwhile exercise.

To that end, last year the Government announced its intention to close its Missions to Iran, East Timor and The Vatican. This will save Irish taxpayers €1.25 million a year. That's every year. That will add up to over €5 million during the life of this Government. It's not billions, but it is millions that we won't have to borrow. Millions we won't have to pay interest on. Millions that could be better spent on services in this country. There is no economic argument for retaining these Missions.

There is however an emotional cost. Members of the Irish Army Rangers served in East Timor as it regained its place among the nations of the World. That experience of regained independence is something we Irish can identify with and being able to help them on their path to freedom is something to be very proud of. That we are reducing this link by closing our Mission there is unpleasant.

A similar argument could be made regarding our Embassy in The Vatican. The links between the Catholic Church and Ireland are extensive. It's just that we already have an embassy in Rome. As for Iran, I'm not aware of anyone who will be moved by the closure of this Mission.

We should not dismiss sentiment but neither should we allow it to dictate our economic policies. On the list of sacrifices that we are being asked to make, I think the loss of a few embassies will rank among the easiest cuts to accept.

If you agree with me, please do as I have done and send a message to Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore and /or your local representatives, indicating support for the decision on the embassies. Sincerely, Paul Bowler, Balinclougher, Lixnaw.