Ireland will reopen its embassy to the Holy See

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Ireland will reopen its embassy to the Holy See

Gerard O'connell

Ireland will reopen its embassy to the Holy See, and appoint a new residential ambassador. The Irish Government took the decision this month, reversing its earlier controversial decision three years ago.

"This will enable Ireland to engage directly with the leadership of Pope Francis on the issues of poverty eradication, hunger and human rights," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The decision was announced by the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, as part of an expansion of Ireland’s diplomatic network that will also see new embassies opening in Thailand, Indonesia, Croatia, and Kenya, as well as consulates in Hong Kong, Austin (Texas) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). Ireland has diplomatic relations with 176 countries.

The news, which had been expected for some time following the improvement in Ireland’s economic situation, was greeted with joy by Irish Cardinal Sean Brady and by Apostolic Nuncio in Dublin Archbishop Charles Brown as well as by Vatican officials.

“I welcome the decision by the Government today to reopen Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See,” the cardinal said in a statement.

“Whilst the embassy has been closed since November 2011, it is important to recognize that diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Holy See were in existence and productive during this time”, Cardinal Brady stated. He paid “particular tribute”, to Ireland’s non-residential Ambassador David Cooney “for his work in this regard”. Cooney is secretary general to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ireland’s most senior diplomat.

“Based on our shared commitment to justice, peace, eradication of poverty, international development, and the protection of the environment”, the cardinal said he now looked forward to “ongoing and fruitful cooperation between Ireland and the Holy See for the common good.”

Archbishop Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio, hailed the news as “an excellent decision for the people of Ireland”, and predicted that it “will be beneficial to Ireland in making its distinctive and important contribution to international relations.” He expressed gratitude to all those “who worked so hard to make this day possible.”

Irish officials said the new embassy will be more modest than its predecessor, also in terms of reduced staffing, for reasons of economy and sobriety. It will not be housed at the Villa Spada, the site of the former embassy that has since become the Irish embassy to Italy, as there is no space for it there. A new site will have to be found. Nevertheless, they expect the new residential ambassador to be in place by the summer.

The Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, speaking to Vatican Insider, warmly welcomed the government’s decision as “a very positive one, that was received with much joy, and which manifests once again the profound relations that exist between Ireland and the Holy See.”

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 10:27
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