Irish Times
16 Apr 2012

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: DELEGATES VOTED down a motion calling for the reopening of a resident Irish Embassy in the Vatican.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Joe Costello said the Government’s decision to close the embassy would not be reversed in the immediate term.

“However, as the economic situation improves, and in the context of a regular review of our diplomatic network, it may be possible to revisit the matter at some time in the future,” he added.

Delegates rejected Mr Costello’s recommendation that the motion be referred to the party’s central council and then defeated it on a show of hands.

Proposing the motion, Seán Canniffe (Tuam, Co Galway) said the Vatican was the centre of the Catholic world and the embassy was a very important symbol of its relationship with Ireland. “I am not suggesting that anybody who is not a Catholic should believe this, but that is what Catholics believe.” Mr Canniffe said that Ireland needed to network and garner influence above its size.

Gerry Kerr (Finglas, Dublin) said the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore had stated unequivocally that the embassy was closed solely for cost-cutting reasons.

He said the embassy should be closed until the Vatican co-operated with the Republic’s inquiries into the sexual abuse of children. “I believe these children, their parents, and the memory of Mary Raftery, and our self-respect as citizens of Ireland, deserve no less.”

The conference passed a TCD motion, amended by the Rathmines branch in Dublin South East, calling for a more liberal regime to terminate pregnancies.

It noted the legislative void preventing constitutionally mandated, safe and legal terminations of pregnancy and supported the longer-term need for legal abortion on grounds wider than risk to life or health.