The closure of the Irish Embassy to the Vatican was described as ‘a regressive step’ by a Mayo County Councillor, who feels that the government will regret breaking off diplomatic links with the Vatican.
The issue of the Government’s decision to close the Irish Embassy in the Vatican was raised by Cllr Richard Finn (independent) at last week’s sitting of Mayo County Council. It led to a heated debate which lasted for over 40 minutes.
Speaking to The Mayo News following the meeting Cllr Finn said he was disappointed with the Government’s decision and felt it was ‘small minded’.
He said Ireland had historical links going back centuries with the Vatican and that he felt it was wrong to close the embassy ‘whatever our current disagreements may be’.
“I feel the decision is a small minded one with very little thought put into it and one which we could rue into the future. The Vatican is still a big player in the world and is the spiritual home of 1.3 billion Catholics. This is a bad move. We have had a historical relationship with the Vatican for hundreds of years, and at a time when Britain is doing everything to try and cultivate a relationship with the Vatican, we are going the other way,” said the councillor.
A number of councillors backed Cllr Finn’s view, with many voicing their disappointment at the decision and calling for it to be reversed. The debate was heated at times, with Cllr Frank Durcan saying he was ashamed to be from Castlebar when a Castlebar man had the final say in closing it.
Fine Gael councillor John O’Malley hit back at the claims saying the country might have been better off without the Catholic Church while Cllr Jarlath Munnelly said there was already an Irish Embassy in Rome.
Cllr Finn told The Mayo News that the closure of the embassy could have consequences for Mayo which he says relies on religious tourism.
“In Mayo we have Croagh Patrick and the Knock Shrine, which are two of the most visited sites in the county. The majority of people who visit them regard the Vatican as very important to them; they may [now choose to] support Rome in a different way,” he said.