Mullingar councillors are calling on the Government to reverse their decision to close the Irish Embassy in the Vatican.
Cllr Aidan Davitt raised the issue at last week’s meeting of Mullingar Town Council, saying he felt it was a “ridiculous” decision to close it.
“Ireland has strong links with the Vatican, and it has had an important role in Irish history. Two weeks ago Britain sent a delegaton of four Ministers and three Ministers of State to the Vatican to help confront issues such as arms, religious freedom, and poverty. This is how strongly Britain feels, and they are predominantly a non-Catholic country.
“I’m very disappointed at this decision and would hope it will be reviewed.”
Cllr Davitt received support from Cllr Mick Dollard, who said he had written to Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore on the issue, Cllr Peter Burke who confirmed there was “unease” in his own party Fine Gael over the closure, and Cllr Ken Glynn.
While Cllr Ruth Illingworth was the only councillor to disagree, she said she would support the council sending a letter to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Gilmore.
“We are not breaking off relations with the Vatican; we are rationalising embassies. We have two embassies in one city, and the embassy that serves Italy could also serve the Vatican,” she said, adding that she couldn’t justify maintaining two embassies in one city at a time when the country was trying to cut back on spending.
“We have had problems with the Vatican and they have shown a lack of respect for this country’s laws, but we are not downgrading the embassy, we are maintaining our relationship with the Vatican.
“I support the Minister’s actions but if you wish to write I’m happy to go along with it,” she added.