Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD has criticised what he describes as a completely incoherent approach to Ireland’s diplomatic relationship with the Vatican. The Fianna Fáil Whip’s intervention comes as Minister Lucinda Creighton prepares to contradict her own Department’s position.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl commented, “The decision to close Ireland’s Embassy in the Vatican was a mistake. It made no sense from a diplomatic, strategic, or economic perspective. The argument that was advanced publicly at the time, that the running costs were too high, was an insult to people’s intelligence and left many people across the country feeling frustrated and angry.
“Now, in the face of feedback from constituents, increasing numbers of Coalition TDs are coming to realise the mistake and agree with Fianna Fáil’s analysis – that Ireland should be concentrating on building its influence overseas rather than scaling it back. In response, we now have the bizarre spectacle of the Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton attempting to ride two horses: give Ministerial leadership in the Department that has made the decision, while currying favour with angry backbenchers who realise the mistake and want to see it reversed. Media reports tell us that she will support FG backbenchers petitioning for a reversal.
“This is more than an obscure diplomatic or financial issue. There exists a real possibility that Pope Benedict XVI could yet be convinced to visit the country later this year. The incoherent approach of the Government and apparent refusal to simply acknowledge the mistake that has been made cannot be helping the country’s prospects.
“Minister Lucinda Creighton must finally come to terms with the fact that she is now the Minister for European Affairs. Agreeing with those who oppose her decision and declaring that ‘something must be done’ is unacceptable. If she believes that her Department was wrong in ordering the closure of our Vatican Embassy, she should now move to demand that the decision be reversed. Otherwise, if she is being genuine in her assertion that the Embassy should reopen, she should consider her position.”