Ireland to re-open embassy to Holy See

Scaled back embassy to be housed in "modest" offices

Ireland has decided to re-open its embassy to the Holy See as part of a wider expansion of the nation's embassy and consulate network. Pressure from Irish members of parliament, as well as skillful diplomatic negotiating by the papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, are also considered to be responsible for the decision.

The embassy to the Vatican will be housed in a separate building to the Irish embassy to Italy, which is located at Villa Spada on the Gianicolo hill and was once home to Ireland's embassy to the Holy See.

The new scaled back embassy will be housed in "modest" office accommodation with just one diplomat, according to Ireland's department of foreign affairs.

The Vatican embassy was closed in November 2011 when Benedict XVI was still pope, over what the Irish government described as cost cutting measures. The controversial decision followed the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny's unprecedented attack on the Vatican over its alleged cover-up of clerical child sex abuse in Ireland.

The Irish government denied there was any connection between the embassy's closure and the dispute. However the move was interpreted by many as an insult to the Holy See, and marked an all-time low in the once rosy relations between Ireland and the Vatican.

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Photo: Plaque outside former Irish embassy to the Holy See, now home to Irish embassy to Italy.