TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that the decision to close Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See will be reviewed “in its own good time”.
Kenny said the move to close the embassy had been “a collective government decision” which had been “hyped up in certain quarters”, including by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Kenny was responding to charges from Martin during the Dáil’s Leaders’ Questions, who quoted advice from a former ambassador Seán Donlon in saying that a country “must be where policy is formulated in order to have an input into the formulation of that policy”.
“I don’t think this was thought through properly,” Martin said, urging the Taoiseach to “bring clarity” to reports on whether the closure of the embassy would be reversed.
“Ireland needs as expensive a diplomatic footprint as it can manage,” Martin said – before revealing that he, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, had previously rejected proposals to close embassies in the Vatican, Iran and Timor Leste for that reason.
Kenny, in response, told Martin not to “come in here and tell me… that simply putting someone on the ground deals with such a sensitive and personal issue, which has put such a scar on our people and our land”.
The Taoiseach said the new non-resident ambassador, David Cooney, has already travelled to the Holy See twice on ambassadorial business and would attend a meeting of Cardinals in Rome on Saturday, where Cardinals are to approve the canonisation of new saints.
Kenny also assured that if Pope Benedict wished to attend the International Eucharistic Congress, he would be afford the “proper decorum in respect of his position and his status”.
Figures published in this morning’s newspapers showed that the Holy See embassy had cost €589,300 to run in 2011 – up from €455,820 in 2010.