By DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter and jOHN DRENNAN

Sunday February 05 2012

THE Government has been plunged into its first crisis after Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday categorically rejected Fine Gael calls to reverse the decision to close the Irish embassy to the Vatican.

The astonishing row over the Vatican embassy comes on the heels of a series of spats between the coalition over cuts in the Budget, which have led to a significant deterioration of relations between FG and Labour in recent weeks.

Speaking exclusively to this newspaper, the Labour leader has delivered an unequivocal rejection to his coalition partners, saying “no, the decision will not be reversed. It was a government decision”.

“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 had to cut its cloth to measure.”

Mr Gilmore’s rejection of the demands from within Fine Gael puts him at odds with reported commitments from Taoiseach Enda Kenny to review the embassy closure. Junior FG minister Lucinda Creighton yesterday said the embassy could be re-opened within two years.

Discontent about the Vatican embassy closure led to a series of dramatic, and sometimes farcical, clashes at a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last week. During the meeting, over half the TDs called for the re-opening of the embassy.

One of the most surreal moments saw TD Peter Mathews brandish a set of rosary beads at the “secularist members of the party”. The meeting became so heated that senior ministers Michael Noonan and James Reilly had to intervene to calm the mood.

Mr Noonan stressed “Enda’s credentials as a sound Catholic” and at one point claimed that “he is a better Catholic than myself”.

Fine Gael figures were united in the demand that the Vatican embassy would be re-opened and soon.

The clash of ideologies between the parties has intensified since Budget day, and with such strong division lines being drawn between the parties on “non-critical” issues like the Vatican embassy, several senior ministers have now begun to question the ability of the Government to last the full term.

Yesterday a senior Fine Gael figure told the Sunday Independent: “I can see us getting one more Budget through, but I can’t see us getting a third one through such is the feuding and in-fighting going on at the moment.”

Speaking yesterday, Mr Gilmore as Foreign Minister in the eye of the storm made it clear that despite the Fine Gael calls, the decision to close the Vatican embassy is final.

“We have appointed a secretary-general in my department as ambassador as a non-resident. He will service it from Dublin. The decision to close the embassy and not to have an ambassador in residence is not going to be reversed,” he added.

And Mr Gilmore is not alone in his opposition to such a review. Labour Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has this weekend also ruled out any reversal of the decision.

Mr Gilmore denied that the decision to close the embassy was related to his Government’s criticism — a criticism led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny — of the Vatican’s role in the Cloyne Report into child sexual abuse or that it was part of any “anti-Catholic” agenda within his own party.

He also said that if the Vatican relaxed its rules to allow countries to use their embassies to Italy to also facilitate their relations with the Holy See, then the matter could be re-examined.

“The other issue that comes into play here is the refusal of the Vatican to allow countries to use their embassy to Italy as their embassy to the Vatican. So we have had to maintain two residences, two staffs. If the Vatican relaxes its view on that then we can relook at the arrangements then.”

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Mr Howlin also rejected any suggestion of reversing the decision to close the embassy. “It was a government decision, taken by all of Government in the context of the Budget, so it doesn’t arise.”

The closure of the Vatican embassy, cuts to small rural schools and cuts to various welfare benefits are the central issues in the war between the two coalition partners.

At the heated Fine Gael meeting on Wednesday, Mr Kenny reassured Fine Gael backbenchers that the decision to close down Ireland’s Vatican embassy would be reviewed.

Mr Kenny told the meeting of his personal good relations with the Catholic Church.

“The real threat to the Government is that rows between the alternative sets of back-benchers will spark a political crisis that can only be resolved by an election,” one minister said of the dispute.

Dublin Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain yesterday apologised for his apparent support of a proposal that senior public servants be screened to ensure they do not show “inappropriate deference to the Catholic Church”.

He claimed the proposal came from within his constituency organisation and he did not read it before submitting it for inclusion at the party’s upcoming conference. His apparent support for such a proposal drew the ire of party colleagues.

 

19 Responses to “Gilmore’s ‘not an inch on Vatican’ sparks crisis”

  1. Robert says:

    Thank you for your thoughts ladies and gentlemen I am fine closure is good here for me and most important.

  2. Martha says:

    Dear Robert,

    I too” write as I see fit. ”

    I wish to convey my condolences to you on the sudden death of your mother. I grieved over my own mother for many years and it was a very painful experience which lasted for many years.

    I realise your childhood was absolutely terrible, having spent it in five (presumably) Irish Catholic Industrial Schools. However, whilst I was lucky enough not to have had a similar experience, my own childhood was also extremely miserable, practically every day, so much so, I wouldn’t choose to live through it again. No f***ing way!

    Of course you have a right to be angry at our so-called Government. Like lots of other right-minded people, I am too. They are using and abusing their positions of power – that is, Power without the Responsibilty that goes with being in such positions. They are, after all, only doing what they were “trained” to do from birth. Catholic Ireland and all that …

    Robert, I’m not trying to be “so bloody clever” . I’m just not that stupid, not least I know where to direct my anger, when I feel angry, namely, at the source of that anger. Sometimes, I get it wrong, but usually I hit the right target. I’ve had lots of practice: its been a while since I was a teenager myself (smile).

    I hope this comment of mine helps you in some way Robert.

    All the best, Martha

  3. sally mulready says:

    Robert

    So sorry about your mother. Its always sad whenever they go…..and especially if there are questions left unanswered and love there that is unspoken of.
    my thoughs,love to you Robert

    Sally mulready

  4. Hi Robert, sorry to read about your Mum sincere condolences to you and your family.

  5. Robert i am deeply sorry about your Mothers death.

  6. Robert says:

    I was informed by the Right of Place earlier today and I insisted that you and robert nuthall and i get an invite, as I believe we should boycott this fund in public, there is no such thing as 50-50, the very fact these funds have run out and were useless to survivors alone now they dump these into this fund is an insult not a healing process.
    Once more I said to them as well the Government are taxing redress as all survivors have had to put their money into banks and every little transaction is taxed plus all the wages of staff used in the redress, reports, solicitors, barristers, redress staff, groups so on and so forth they must have made a lot of tax back on the 1. 36 billion they paid out.
    IF WE ACCEPT THIS FUND WE WILL BE SHORT OF HEALING BY A LONG WAY.
    THEY DECIDED TO PAY THAT AS THEIR GUILTY PART IN THIS CRIME AGAINST SURVIVORS NOW THE OTHER PARTY MUST PAY THEIR 100% TOO NO SUCH THING AS 50-50 IN THIS AS IT WAS INVENTED BY THE GUILTY PARTY INVOLVED.
    ANYWAY I STRONGLY INSISTED YOU SHOULD BE AT THAT MEETING AT LEAST FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE PUT THEIR VIEWS ON YOUR SITE, AND THAT OF ROBERTS
    Regards Robert

  7. Paddy says:

    I haven’t heard anything about a ‘large meeting’ with all groups and non groups regarding the Statutory Fund. I imagine that if such a meeting were to be held it would be advertised. If you have concrete evidence of such a meeting, let me know and I will ensure it is posted on this website. Paddy.

  8. Robert says:

    Paddy do you know of a large meeting coming shortly with all groups and non groups? regarding the Statuary fund?
    We must refuse to use this fund or we will loose out once again please survivors make a stand.
    NO TO THIS STATUARY FUND, IT IS ” NOT’ A DEAL FOR SURVIVORS.

  9. Thats great news because the pope doesnt care about the harm done to children. Keeping things straight with the church is the only way to get through to them. as long as he refuses to protect the children in the church run buisnesses no child can be assured of safety. In that case well there are lots of potential teachers around.you know martha i wont stop writing because of your attitude. i have things to say and thats my right thanks to paddys site. perhaps i am not up to the standard you fix but as long as i am understood thats what matters. getting things off my mind is a great relief. thanks for reading my comments

  10. Angry says:

    AT LAST, viable confirmation that Ireland ranks as one of the most intelligent Countries on the planet. A government spokesman confirmed recently that out of a population nearing SEVEN MILLION, only ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND called for the re-instatment of a “diplomatic” office in the vatican. Surely the lowest number of EEJITS any Country could proudly boast of !!!!!!!!

    Angry.

  11. Robert says:

    Before you start again in your pathetic views it is obvious I am not a teenager, but after a childhood spent in five industrial schools, and just so you know, I write as I see fit, especially when my Mother was just found dead today and I have no money to go to bury her, no funds just wet sympathies from so called groups who blew thousands and a Government who has not done anything about restoring health, nor survivors disabilities, dental care and the list goes on.
    yes i am fully aware of reality of the Government, but I have the right to be angry.
    Now just maybe in your mind somewhere you might just think about the hurt you cause survivors by such views, you never know what you are doing trying to be so bloody clever.
    Now if you have nothing to help survivors then stop trying to wind us up.

    If you get some kind of kick then you must be so lonely so go back to your needles and darn some socks in it.

  12. Robert says:

    Martha, Are you really that lonely, I wonder why, enjoy your needles.

  13. Martha says:

    FXR said: ” … to brag about being a good Catholic.”

    Dress it up anyway you like, but that’s usually how one becomes a “Great Success” in Ireland – even today! Plus ca change… as the French saying goes.

    Jackson Pauline said: “let the kids grow up first.”

    What does “Catholic Ireland” know about the NATURAL development of human beings? Nothing, that’s what!

    Robert said: “ANOTHER GREAT INSULT BY THIS GOVERNMENT. DISGUSTING HYPOCRITES , LIARS, CHEATERS, NEVER TO BE TRUSTED TO PROTECT THE IRISH PUBLIC”

    I have no idea what age you are Robert, but if you’re only realising this now, then I presume you are still quite young: a teenager?

    Andrew said: “Gilmore’s “Not An Inch” could be translated as follows: “We’ll be inviting the Pope for tea & muffin”. Gilmore should know that he’s a bit old to be receiving a muffin from the clergy.”

    Andrew, it may come as a surprise to you, but some people are addicted to the “diet” they were fed as children. So, Gilmore still likes muffins. “Let them eat cake” comes to mind …

    Now, where did I leave my knitting needles …

  14. Andrew says:

    Based on the broken promises of this administration, Gilmore’s “Not An Inch” could be translated as follows: “We’ll be inviting the Pope for tea & muffin”. Gilmore should know that he’s a bit old to be receiving a muffin from the clergy.

  15. There are already children under 10 who are perents in some places like spain and here a girl of 9 gave birth. thay are catholics and so dont use contreception. its dangerous for these kids as thier bodies arent ready yet .

  16. Robert says:

    ANOTHER GREAT INSULT BY THIS GOVERNMENT. DISGUSTING HYPOCRITES , LIARS, CHEATERS, NEVER TO BE TRUSTED TO PROTECT THE IRISH PUBLIC

  17. two comments have disapearedso i will try again. these people in the vatican have a different idea of when a child can choose for themselves. 12 years old is too young. thay could influnce society and is too dangerous. let the kids grow up first.

  18. Evin Daly says:

    I believe that any elected official who supports the reopening of the embassy is an enemy of the Irish State. The Catholic Church is guilty of myriad despicable crimes again our children and nation. That we allow them an embassy here is a matter of additional embarrassment. Politicians in Ireland have since the founding of the State, like the Muslims, had the tug of two masters – Church and State – a situation that has never been tolerable least of all now. That it still exists in light of all that we have learned about the Churches wrong-doings is sickening. What we are seeing is the reemergence of the ugly head of conservative Irish Catholicism that chooses to ignore the reality of the Churches role in the sexual abuse of our children. Where is there concern for justice in the harming of our children? Given the priorities we are seeing the question answers itself.

  19. FXR says:

    It says a lot about the state of the country when an Irish politician at this stage would be stupid, deluded or corrupted enough to brag about being a good Catholic.

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