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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.