Higgins meets departing Israel envoy after ‘snub’ confusion

President had not known ambassador asked for farewell meeting before leaving Ireland

 President Michael D Higgins travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday night to be in Dublin to meet departing Israeli  ambassador Boaz Modai on Wednesday.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

President Michael D Higgins travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday night to be in Dublin to meet departing Israeli ambassador Boaz Modai on Wednesday. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

President Michael D Higgins met the departing Israeli ambassador to Ireland on Wednesday after confusion over claims of a diplomatic snub.

The President travelled especially from Galway to Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday night to be in Dublin to meet the ambassador, Boaz Modai, on Wednesday morning on his last day in the country.

Cordial meeting

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Dublin said the two men had a cordial meeting.

He declined to be drawn on who was responsible for the mix-up in which the President was not aware the ambassador had requested a customary farewell meeting before he left Ireland.

There had been earlier media reports of regret at the Israeli embassy over the fact the normal final meeting with a departing ambassador had not been arranged.

When the matter came to light, the President decided to return to Dublin immediately to ensure protocol was observed and hints of a diplomatic snub were scotched.

When informed of the matter on Tuesday evening, the President’s office said it had never received a request from the Department of Foreign Affairs for the customary meeting.

The Israeli embassy said the request was sent to the department in May but the department continued to insist today that such a request was never received.

‘Not received’

The department insisted it had not received a formal request from the embassy for a farewell call to the Áras.

“Requests by departing ambassadors for farewell calls on the President are processed as a protocol request by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and are then transmitted to Áras an Uachtaráin by the department.

“In this case, no such request was received and consequently no request was conveyed to Áras an Uachtaráin.

“Once An tUachtarán became aware that the ambassador wished to have a meeting, a meeting was offered and occurred this morning,” the department said in a statement.

It added Minister of State Jimmy Deenihan had hosted a farewell lunch at the Department of Foreign Affairs for Mr Modai and that Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan had attended a farewell reception hosted by the ambassador of Israel on June 23rd.