Irish embassy in Vatican to reopen
The Irish embassy in the Vatican is set to reopen, more than two years after it shut in controversial circumstances.
The Irish government cited financial cost as the reason for closure in late 2011, but the move was widely viewed as a snub to the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
The closure followed an unprecedented attack by the Irish prime minister on Vatican authorities over their response to a clerical child abuse inquiry.
Ireland's Vatican office will reopen as one of five new Irish embassies.
The others will be opened in Thailand, Indonesia, Croatia and Kenya.
In addition, the Irish government is to open three new consulates in China, Brazil and the US state of Texas.
In a statement, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was establishing the new offices in a bid to bolster trade links in both fast-growing economies and established business hubs.
It added that the reopened Vatican office would be a "scaled-back, one-person embassy with a focus on international development".
"This will enable Ireland to engage directly with the leadership of Pope Francis on the issues of poverty eradication, hunger and human rights," the DFA said.
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, said the expansion of the Irish diplomatic network was "an investment in the future of our country."
"Over the past five years our diplomats have been tasked with the frontline role in restoring Ireland's once-tattered reputation abroad, and in championing our economic cause," he said.
"And they have been hugely successful in doing that - both in European capitals, influencing key decisions at European Council level, and in major cities, organisations and political capitals around the world.
"This expansion of the embassy network will help to bolster that effort, and, crucially, to drive Ireland's economic recovery which has been export-led."
The closure of the Irish embassy came five months after Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny launched a blistering verbal attack on the Catholic hierarchy in the Irish parliament.
'Rape and torture'
He made his speech in the wake of the publication of the Cloyne report into the Catholic Church's mishandling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in County Cork.
Mr Kenny said the Cloyne report had exposed, "an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic".
He added: "The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and reputation."
The charge was angrily rejected by the Vatican, which recalled its Papal Nuncio from Dublin for a time.
The current Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, has welcomed the decision to reopen the Vatican embassy.
"I am very pleased by the announcement of the Irish government regarding the reopening of a residential embassy of Ireland to the Holy See, and the appointment of a resident ambassador," he said.
"It is an excellent decision for the people of Ireland and will be beneficial to Ireland in making its distinctive and important contribution to international relations.
"We are all grateful to those who worked so hard to make this day possible."