Motion to reopen embassy defeated


A motion to reopen the Irish embassy in the Vatican has been defeated at the Labour party conference in Galway.

Delegates rejected a recommendation from Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Joe Costello to refer the motion to the party’s central council and then went on to vote it down on a show of hands.

Proposing the motion, Sean Canniffe (Tuam, Co Galway) said the Vatican was the centre of the Catholic world and the embassy was a very important symbol of its relationship with Ireland.

“I am not suggesting that anybody who is not a Catholic should believe this, but that is what Catholics believe,” he added.

“They are our fellow Irish citizens, fellow workers and friends.” Mr Canniffe said that Ireland needed to network and garner influence above its size.

“We are a small, open economy,” he added. “We need to find out what people are thinking.”

</p> <p>Gerry Kerr (Finglas, Dublin) said the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore had stated unequivocally that the embassy was closed solely for cost-cutting reasons.</p> <p>He said the embassy should be kept closed until the Vatican fully co-operated with the Republic’s inquiries into the sexual abuse of children.</p> <p>“I believe these children, their parents, and the memory of Mary Rafferty, and our self-respect as citizens of Ireland, deserve no less,” he added. </p> <p>The conference passed a TCD motion, amended by the Rathmines branch in Dublin South East, calling for a more liberal regime to terminate pregnancies.</p> <p>It noted the legislative void preventing constitutionally mandated, safe and legal terminations of pregnancy and supported the longer-term need for legal abortion on grounds wider than risk to life or health.</p> <p>The three-day conference concluded at lunchtime.</p>