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Ireland re-opens Vatican embassy after three year hiatus

Mission was closed in wake of sex abuse scandal

  • AFP, Dublin
  • Vatican City
  • January 24, 2014
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Ireland said on Tuesday it will reopen a scaled-down embassy at the Vatican, nearly three years after closing the mission in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal engulfing the Roman Catholic Church.

The decision to close the embassy in November 2011 caused shock in predominantly Catholic Ireland and illustrated how far relations between Dublin and the Holy See had soured.

The Irish government had always insisted that it was closed for cost reasons as the country faced up to the crippling terms of an international bailout.

"A scaled-back, one-person embassy with a focus on international development is to be re-established at the Holy See," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement on Tuesday.

"This will enable Ireland to engage directly with the leadership of Pope Francis on the issues of poverty eradication, hunger and human rights."

It is expected to be operating by the end of the year, a spokesman said.

The closure of Ireland's Vatican embassy followed a row sparked by a report into the long-running abuse scandal in the Irish diocese of Cloyne.

The July 2011 report into more than a decade of abuse by priests in Cloyne condemned the Church's handling of abuse claims against clerics as inadequate.

The report sparked outrage in the Irish government and triggered an unprecedented attack by Prime Minister Enda Kenny on the "narcissism" of the Vatican.

The Vatican subsequently recalled its envoy to Ireland.

Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, welcomed the decision to reopen the embassy and said he looked forward to "fruitful co-operation between Ireland and the Holy See for the common good".

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, welcomed the news and said reopening the embassy on a smaller scale was a "very constructive exercise" that "will enhance relations between the Vatican and Ireland".

Dublin also announced on Tuesday it is to set up new embassies in Thailand, Indonesia, Kenya and Croatia. It will also create Consulate Generals in Hong Kong, Sao Paolo and in Austin, Texas.

"In doing this, we are closing some of the obvious gaps where Ireland currently has little or no footprint," Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said in a statement. AFP

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