TDs seek review of Vatican embassy closure


FINE GAEL TDs have strongly endorsed a motion calling for a review of the Government’s decision to close Ireland’s embassy to the Vatican.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton, were among the 35 speakers at the two-hour meeting, which backed the call for a review.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore announced the decision to close the embassy in early November. He had received Government approval for the decision.

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Charlie Flanagan said last night a unanimous view had been expressed at the meeting that the decision should be reviewed, during a debate on a motion from Sligo North-Leitrim TD, Tony McLoughlin.

“There was a unanimous view that the issue should be reviewed and the matter revisited and that the issue should be addressed by the Government.”

Mr Flanagan added it was also the unanimous view of the meeting that a decision to reopen the embassy should not be made a matter of urgency while the economic reasons that gave rise to the decision prevailed.

“The view was that at the earliest opportunity, having regard to the prevailing economic conditions, the issue should be reviewed,” he said.

He added that the appointment of the new papal envoy, Archbishop Charles John Brown, presented an opportunity to improve relations with the Vatican.

“The Taoiseach stated that it was important to have a good and positive relationship with the Vatican state,” said Mr Flanagan.

After the meeting a number of TDs expressed their satisfaction at the decision and the tone of the discussion.

“The Taoiseach gave a very positive speech stressing the importance of good relations with the Vatican while taking nothing away from the need to hold the institution of the church accountable for the way it dealt with child abuse,” said one TD.

Mr Kenny also told the meeting that if it was the wish of Pope Benedict to visit Ireland, a formal invitation would be issued in the normal way and the pontiff would be treated with full respect.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has issued an invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Ireland for the International Eucharistic Congress later this year, and it is understood this is under consideration.