Ireland to shut Vatican embassy in financial crisis cost overhaul
Ireland will close its embassy to the Vatican, one of the Catholic country’s oldest missions, as part of a cost-cutting programme prompted by the country’s EU-IMF bailout.
Relations between the Irish government and the Vatican, once traditional allies, are at an all-time low over the Church’s handling of sex abuse cases. But Eamon Gilmore, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, denied the embassy closure was linked.
“That was not a consideration,” Gilmore told state broadcaster RTE on Thursday. “Our diplomatic relations with the Vatican will continue and they are valued.”
The Vatican recalled its ambassador to Ireland in July after Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused the Holy See of obstructing investigations into sexual abuse by priests.
Gilmore said he did not expect the Vatican now to close its mission in Dublin.
“The fact that we have chosen to close our mission in the Vatican and to have it serviced from Dublin doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t have a Papal Nuncio here,” he said.
Ireland is closing three embassies as part of the overhaul, including missions in Iran and Timor Leste, which will save the country 1.25 million euros (862 thousand) a year.
In a statement, Gilmore said: “While the Embassy to the Holy See is one of Ireland’s oldest missions, it yields no economic return. The Government believes that Ireland’s interests with the Holy See can be sufficiently represented by a non-resident Ambassador. The Government will be seeking the agreement of the Holy See to the appointment of a senior diplomat to this position.”