The Irish government has announced the closure of its embassy to the Vatican, starkly illustrating that relations between Dublin and the Catholic Church are at an historically glacial low.
The government and the Vatican remain in serious disagreement over child abuse by the clergy, with the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, accusing Rome of trying to sabotage official inquiries. He has already accused the Church of "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism", which he claimed dominated the culture of the Vatican.
Traditionally, Ireland has been unusually close to the Catholic Church, but its faith was greatly shaken by a series of damning reports on the Church's alleged indifference to child sex abuse by priests and other clerics. Over the past decade, thousands of people have complained of abuse while in Church care.
Officially, the government said the embassy "yields no economic return". In fact, its closure, together with those in Iran and Timor-Leste, will bring an annual saving of little more than €1m.Reuse content