Vatican in talks over Irish combining Italian and Vatican embassy functions

Irish embassy to the Vatican, Rome

Minister to Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said that discussions with the Vatican were under way to allow the former Irish embassy to be used as a location for embassies to Italy and to the Holy See, according to the Irish Times.

Gilmore said that the non-resident Ambassador, department secretary general David Cooney, was in talks with Vatican authorities to seek an agreement about both missions cohabitaing in the Villa Spada, Ireland's former embassy to the Holy See.

“One of the difficulties we had was the insistence by the Vatican that we had to have two separate ambassadors, two separate embassies, two separate buildings,” said Gilmore. “In our present financial circumstances I didn’t think that was sustainable.”

Ireland's embassy to Italy is being relocated from its rented quarters to the Villa Spada, the biggest of the State's 36 diplomatic properties worldwide. The properties' combined value is €148 million.

“One of the difficulties we had was the insistence by the Vatican that we had to have two separate ambassadors, two separate embassies, two separate buildings,” said Gilmore. “In our present financial circumstances I didn’t think that was sustainable.”

On Thursday, Cooney told an Oireachtas committee that he was in discussions with Vatican officials about the use of Villa Spada.

“One of the things he advised the committee yesterday,” said Gilmore, “was the necessity for him to be allowed to do that work behind the scenes which is where diplomatic effort is more effective.”

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