An Irish Catholic lay group has met with politicians to voice their frustration over the closure of Ireland’s embassy to the Vatican.
Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said on Wednesday evening that despite the escalation in their campaign, the decision would not be changed.
The protesters, from the group Ireland Stand Up, met with 50 TDs, 25 senators, and seven representatives of ministers in Dublin.
Gilmore is closing down a number of embassies to cut costs. The Minister also made the point that there is already an embassy in Rome, which covers the whole of Italy.
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A spokesperson for the group, Mary Fitzgibbon, told the BBC, “Mr Gilmore recently spoke of human rights and needing to listen to people…This is an issue of grave importance to us and we are asking him to listen."
A spokesperson for the Minister, speaking to the Irish Independent, said, “As the Tanaiste said in response to a public statement by Cardinal Brady at the time, he would have preferred if Ireland could have maintained an Ambassador to the Holy See; however, given the economic situation and the Department's very tight budget, it was one of those regrettable decisions that had to be taken.”
Ireland Stand Up also asked that the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny issue a formal invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to visit Dublin during the International Eucharistic Congress this summer.
The congress is held every four years and was last held in Dublin in 1932. It is estimated that 15,000 people will travel to Dublin during the week of Catholic events.
Fitzgibbon said “Ireland is holding the equivalent of a Catholic Olympics and we would like to see the Pope invited to the closing ceremony …The economic and spiritual benefits will be enormous for Irish people."
"We received a letter from the Pope earlier this month in which he said that he appreciates the sentiments which prompted this thoughtful gesture."