The Archbishop of Dublin has said it is time to close the door on the Vatican Embassy controversy and rebuild relationships with the Irish government.

Dr Diarmuid Martin wants the Church to ‘move on’ from the row with the Irish authorities over the closure of the embassy to the Holy See.

Speaking at an Ash Wednesday mass in University College Dublin, Dr Martin re-affirmed his belief that it was a mistake to close the embassy.

He again expressed the wish that the official Irish presence in the Vatican be restored in time but called for an end to the heated debate on the subject.

“I think it was a mistake to close it, but let’s be realistic, for a moment,” said Archbishop Martin.

“For some period of time you’ll have a non-resident ambassador, a very competent person, a very committed person, I don’t think the polemic is helping anybody anymore.

“I think - move on. I’m not saying it should be forgotten but it becomes the dominant issue, every day there’s something about it.”

Dr Martin also responded to recent revelations in the Irish Independent that a disgraced American Bishop was a frequent guest at the embassy.

Cardinal Bernard Law, forced to resign after investigations into clerical sex abuse in his Boston diocese, attended farewell functions for the Irish and UK ambassadors in the former embassy last year.

“It was probably the case that he would have been invited along with other cardinals,” said Bishop Martin.

“If they were saying they were doing things specifically in his honour it would be a different thing, but in diplomacy you work with the people that are there.

“It’s a very complicated business and sometimes you may have to work with people you don’t agree with.”