Decision to close Vatican embassy criticised

 

THE FORMER Supreme Court Judge Hugh O’Flaherty has criticised the Government’s decision to close its embassy to the Vatican, describing it as “unwise” and “a bit of a mystery”.

Mr Justice O’Flaherty was speaking during the annual event in Killarney to honour his late uncle Msgr Hugh O’Flaherty, who is credited with saving thousands of lives by running an escape line during the second World War.

The priest was working in the Vatican at the outset of the war.

The retired judge said yesterday the embassy had always been “a great centre” and the savings from its closure seemed to be “very little”.

As an “ordinary citizen” the planned closure seemed to him to be “a very unwise move”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said the closure of the embassy is to save money and has denied it has to do with any deterioration in relations between the Government and the Vatican.

During the memorial event in Killarney, Trócaire’s regional director in Latin America, Sally O’Neill, was presented with the annual Hugh O’Flaherty humanitarian award.

Ms O’Neill had worked tirelessly tackling poverty and inequality in third world countries throughout the world, including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, the citation read.

A permanent memorial to the monsignor, who came to be known as “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican” because of his ability to escape Nazi traps, is to be erected in Killarney.