Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Éamon Ó Cuív has told the Dáil that the Government’s decision to shut down the Irish embassy in the Vatican is a mistake. Speaking during Leader’s Questions this morning, Deputy Ó Cuív urged the Tánaiste and Éamon Gilmore to reconsider removing Ireland’s presence from such an important diplomatic centre, for what can only be described as extremely short-sighted poorly thought out reasons.
Deputy Ó Cuív said: “This is a wrong choice diplomatically, politically and economically and it certainly will not add to Ireland’s position in the world. The saving involved could have been found quite easily by making other adjustments within the €150 million overhead of the Tánaiste’s Department.
“The Tánaiste has justified closing the embassy because of our lack of trade with the Vatican. Since when should issues such human rights, disarmament, environment, freedom of religion, democracy and world aid not be a cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy? Does the Tánaiste not agree that the Vatican is a major world player in relation to all of these issues?
“The Tánaiste said last July that the Vatican has one of the largest diplomatic corps in the world, making it an important listening post and crossroads on a range of global, social, political and international issues of interest to Ireland. What has changed in the meantime to change his opinion?
“In my view, it adds nothing to our international reputation to be closing down missions when what we could be doing is ensuring that efficiencies are made in other ways as his predecessor did.”
Deputy Ó Cuív urged the Government to seek savings in elsewhere in the Department of Foreign Affairs before shutting down missions in areas where Ireland is trying to develop trading relationships and build important economic and social links.