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Ireland may re-open embassy to the Vatican
09 December 2013 14:09 by Sarah Mac Donald in Dublin

Ireland could re-open its embassy to the Vatican, the country’s deputy prime minister has indicated.

Eamon Gilmore says he is in favour of a model where two ambassadors would share one building.

This scheme has been adopted by the United Kingdom (although the UK Ambassador to the Holy See has a separate residence) and is being considered by the United States.

"I am looking at missions, the Vatican among them, where we might be able to expand our missions again, and I will look at the Vatican in that context,” Mr Gilmore told RTE's “The Week in Politics” show yesterday.

Mr Gilmore’s spokesman is also reported as saying: “If the Vatican is willing to accept the arrangement of two ambassadors, one building, we would look at it positively.”

In 2011 Ireland closed its permanent embassy to the Holy See, officially citing that it “yielded no economic return.”

However the closure also came after criticism by Prime Minister Enda Kenny for the Vatican’s handling of child sexual abuse – the Holy See later recalled its then ambassador to the country.

The decision by Ireland to close its embassy shocked senior figures in Rome and was considered a blow to the Holy See’s prestige. The closure of the Vatican embassy came along with those in Iran and East Timor and was to save 1.25 million euros (£1 million) a year.

The Irish Embassy to the Holy See had been located at the seventeenth-century Villa Spada and included the ambassador’s residence. The Villa Spada is now occupied by the Irish Embassy to Italy.  

At the time of the closure Mr Gilmore said it had been made with the “greatest regret and reluctance.” The move was criticised by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh.