Group in talks over embassy closure

 

A GROUP of lay Catholics seeking the retention of the Irish embassy to the Vatican met TDs and Senators yesterday.

Some 50 TDs, 25 Senators and seven representatives of Ministers attended the meeting in Dublin, the Ireland Stand Up group said.

The group wants the Government to reverse the decision of November last to close the Holy See embassy.

“We do not believe the decision was economic,” spokeswoman Mary Fitzgibbon yesterday.

It is also urging Taoiseach Enda Kenny to invite Pope Benedict XVI to Ireland for the International Eucharistic Congress being held in Dublin in June.

Minister of State for Europe Lucinda Creighton was among those attending the meeting. She said the closure was due to the difficult economic situation.

“I do believe there will be an opportunity in the future, perhaps not as quickly as we might like, to reopen the embassy,” she said.

Labour TD Colm Keaveney told the meeting he believed that Ireland could afford the embassy.

The group’s presentation highlighted the history between the two states and the networking opportunities lost.

“We have these historic links that go back over 1,500 years with the Holy See,” Ms Fitzgibbon said highlighting the Flight of the Earls and the Vatican’s recognition of the Irish State.

“We have this major global listening post,” she added.

“I think they are taking it very seriously. They were very much open to dialogue,” Ms Fitzgibbon told RTÉ news yesterday.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said the decision to close the embassy was economic and not connected to the row between the Government and the Vatican over its role in child abuse.

The closure is to save the State €800,000 a year.