The Irish government will consider re-opening the embassy at the Vatican – but only if the Holy See adopts a new policy on relations with other states.
Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore has told his parliament that the government decision to close the Vatican embassy can be reviewed.
But he stressed that the Catholic Church hierarchy will need to change their policy on official embassy status.
At present the Church insists that a Vatican embassy must be separate from an embassy to the Italian state in Rome.
The Irish government closed its Vatican embassy in a cost cutting measure and has moved its Italian embassy into the same building.
Gilmore has stated that ‘if the Vatican showed some flexibility on the issue about the co-location of the Irish embassies to the Holy See and Italy, progress is possible’.
He told the parliament that there were ‘indications of some flexibility from the Vatican on the issue of co-location’ and that this possibility would be explored.
Gilmore also told Senators that he took responsibility for the decision to close the embassy in the context of the scarce resources available to the Irish diplomatic service.
“The Vatican had not been agreeable to the use of one premises by both ambassadors based in Rome nor was it acceptable for the same individual to serve as ambassador to both,” he said.
“If that position is relaxed by the Holy See it is something that can be looked at.”
Gilmore also stated that a formal invitation to Pope Benedict to visit Ireland would be issued by the Government if there were indications that the Vatican wanted such a visit to take place.