The growing  rift between the Irish government and the Vatican was underlined by a call this week to cut diplomatic representation to Rome and withdrawing a ceremonial title from the papal nuncio.

Such actions would send an unmistakable signal to the Vatican that Ireland is appalled by its refusal to protect children, according to a former ministerial adviser.

Jerry O’Connor, a former special adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs, told the Irish Examiner this week he would suggest withdrawing the ceremonial title 'Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,' a title automatically conferred on the papal nuncio. 

'Removing the automatic entitlement and placing it on a rotational basis would send an immediate message of Irish anger,' O’Connor told the Examiner.

O’Connor also suggested reducing the number of Irish embassies in Rome to one. Currently there are two, one to Italy and one to the Holy See.

'The argument that Ireland needs a Vatican ‘listening post’ may have been valid at one stage, but in the era of modern media, it is surely now of questionable value,' O’Connor said.


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O'Connor also questioned the Vatican’s attitude towards Ireland at a time when its government has had occasion to meet the papal nuncio twice in 18 months to discuss failures in child protection.

'To make such a protest once, as Micheal Martin did when he was minister for foreign affairs in December 2009 is serious enough, but to have to make the point a second time just 18 months later raises the question of whether Irish representations are treated with little more than contempt,' O’Connor said.

The comments come in the wake of the publication of the Cloyne report, which called into question the nature of Irish diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

The report found that the Holy See dismissed the Irish Church’s framework guidelines for child protection as a "study document". This outraged the Irish government and the irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.