The Israeli ambassador has offered advice to a Catholic campaign group seeking the reinstatement of Ireland’s embassy to the Vatican and the possibility of its co-location with the embassy to Italy.
Campaigners met with ambassador Boaz Modai at the Israeli embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin, yesterday.
Israel’s embassies to the Vatican and Italy share the same complex on Via Michele Mercati in Rome.
Mr Modai served as Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See when it decided to locate two of its embassies there because of budgetary constraints.
The Irish Government has come under pressure to operate dual embassies in Rome following public outcry over the closure of the embassy to the Vatican.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has continually said he would review the closure if the Vatican relaxed a demand for two embassies in Rome, housed in two separate buildings, with two separate staffs.
Campaign group Ireland Stand Up met Mr Modai and sought advice about how Israel operated such a relaxed rule with its two embassies. The Israelis requested that both embassies be on one site in Rome after their embassy to Italy opened in 1994.
Campaign spokeswoman Mary Fitzgibbon confirmed the meeting with Mr Modai had taken place.
“They [the Israelis] took their case. They explained very much to the Vatican what their difficulties were. They worked very closely with them and came to this agreement... Initially they were trying to have separate embassies, but that didn’t come about.
“Whether that can be done with Villa Spada is another question.”
The Villa Spada was bought by the Irish State in 1946 for use as its embassy to the Vatican. Now, it will be used by the Irish ambassador to Italy to save costs.
Ms Fitzgibbon added: “There’s this motion being mooted that the Vatican will not allow co-location. Their desire would be that it wouldn’t occur.
“In Ireland’s case, that can’t be used as an argument for not reopening the embassy. They [the Vatican] actually will work with a particular country on issues.”
The British embassies to Italy and the Vatican share the same address on Via XX Settembre 80A in Rome.
A spokesperson for Mr Modai said the meeting with the campaign group was a private discussion over the embassy issues.
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