Decision to reopen Vatican embassy not imminent, says Kenny

A decision to close the Irish embassy to the Vatican will not be revisited in the near future, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, despite calls from his backbenchers to review it.

The Taoiseach repeated his promise that if he were to attend the International Eucharistic Congress, which takes place in Dublin in June, or any subsequent events “the Government will of course treat his holiness with the respect that his status and office require”.

Mr Kenny said the relationship between the Government and the Church is “far more real and understanding” than it has ever been.

He insisted a decision to close the Embassy to the Holy See was a collective cabinet decision, made for financial reasons.

“People assumed that this followed on the speech I made on the Cloyne Report in the Dáil, that it was something to do with interference with religious practices or whatever. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he told RTÉ radio.

The Fine Gael parliamentary party last week strongly endorsed a motion calling for a review of the decision to close the embassy, which was announced by the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in November.

But TDs and senators agreed that a decision to reopen the embassy should not be made a matter of urgency while the economic reasons that gave rise to the decision prevailed.

Mr Gilmore has dug his heels in, insisting the decision will not be reversed. “It was a Government decisions,” he said.

“I have set out the position as to why it was necessary to do so. It was one of three embassies we closed. Like everyone else, the Department of Foreign Affairs has to cut its cloth.”

But Mr Kenny left open the possibility, saying: “The Tánaiste has said that every Government decision is reviewed in due course and the same will apply to the embassies and consular offices. But that is not going to happen in the immediate future,” he said.

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