Archive for Ireland
Irish security officials say the Israeli Embassy in Dublin has been evacuated because of a suspicious parcel that turned out to be a false alarm. Police erected a modest security cordon around the embassy during Tuesday’s alert but declared it a false alarm two hours later. Army bomb disposal experts inspected the parcel inside the building and say they found nothing dangerous. The Israeli office attracts regular protests by pro-Palestinian activists and also suffers occasional security alerts, but these typically turn out to be false alarms or malicious hoaxes.
A former US Embassy employee has claimed she was raped by an American state official – in an action against the Irish state. PR consultant Ailish Nic Phaidin claims she was raped by a US embassy official in Dublin 36 years ago. Now aged 60 and resident in Florida, Nic Phaidin has brought her case to the High Court in Dublin. The court has heard her claim that she was raped by the official after a party in the basement bar at the embassy, and then forced to resign from her job. The alleged rape took place in the home of the US embassy official. She alleges the incident occurred shortly after she started work in the embassy in 1976. The Irish Independent reports that Nic Phaidin alleges a drug was put in her drink in the embassy basement bar and when she woke up, she was in the home of an embassy official where she claims she was raped. The Donegal born Nic Phaidin has brought an action against the Foreign Affairs Minister and the State in relation to her dismissal or forced resignation from the US embassy, Ballsbridge, in Dublin in 1987. The paper says that Ms Nic Phaidin has claimed she sought assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs in the settlement of her employment dispute with the embassy. The report also states that she has claimed the department ‘breached its duty of care to her and acted negligently in not conveying an offer in 1996 of €200,000 from the embassy’. Ms Nic Phaidin also claims in her case that she was advised by a department official to initiate legal proceedings in the US against the embassy. These proceedings were later struck out because of lack of jurisdiction. The Department of Foreign Affairs denies all claims. In its defence, the department says that while there were discussions in 1996 on some kind of an offer, no offer was in fact ever made.
Israel’s deputy ambassador to Ireland sent an email to colleagues in the Israeli foreign ministry suggesting it “humiliate and shame” Israeli activists sympathetic to the Palestinians and claiming their activism was rooted in psychological problems. Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that Nurit Tinari Modai, who is cultural officer at the embassy and is married to ambassador Boaz Modai, advised that the foreign ministry should adopt a new strategy in which it would “try to hit [the activists’] soft underbellies, to publish their photographs.” This, she wrote, might “cause embarrassment for their friends in Israel and their family” and sow suspicion among non-Israeli activists that “they may actually be working on behalf of Mossad” (the Israeli intelligence agency). The channel reported that the Israeli foreign ministry was taken aback by the content of the leaked correspondence. It quoted an official statement from the ministry in which it said that while it tries to combat “delegitimisation” of Israel internationally, it does not “engage in witch-hunts”. In a statement, the Israeli embassy acknowledged the authenticity of the email but claimed Ms Tinari Modai’s remarks were in jest. “The incident referred to was not a serious discussion of policy at an official level. It was a private joke, sent by private email, which unfortunately was leaked,” it said. Recently, Ms Tinari Modai used the embassy’s official Facebook account to describe campaigners calling for a boycott of Israel as “Israeli self-haters and anti-Semites”.
President Danilo Türk has signed decrees implementing the closure of four embassies, Foreign Minster Karl Erjavec announced. Foreign Ministry following Austerity Meausers Erjavec explained that the decision to close the embassy in Sweden instead of that in Denmark was based on reciprocity, as Sweden also closed its embassy in Ljubljana. He added that the embassy in Copenhagen would easily cover Slovenia’s diplomatic needs in Scandinavia. The foreign minister stressed that his ministry would strengthen the role of honorary consuls. Erjavec said he and Türk agreed that Slovenia’s strategic policy was “not to close the embassies and save money, but rather to reorganise the diplomatic network”. The ministry however plans to save some EUR 1.8m per year with this measure. While austerity also hit the Foreign Ministry, Erjavec expects to open at least one embassy in this term, most likely in central Africa, where Slovenia has great business interests. The minister would also like to open an embassy somewhere in the Gulf. Apart from the four embassies, the government decided to close two general consulates, reportedly those in Düsseldorf and New York. Slovenians living in New York have however urged the government to abandon its plans to close the consulate in the US metropolis, stressing that the move would cause irreparable economic and cultural damage, and undermine Slovenia’s reputation in the US and the world.
Talks aimed at re-opening the Vatican embassy in Rome on the same site as the Italian embassy are taking place with church authorities, according to the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs. David Cooney — who is also Ireland’s non-resident ambassador since the embassy closed — told the Dail Public Accounts Committee that the Vatican has rules against a country having one embassy or ambassador serving both Italy and the Holy See. Other countries have been allowed house their Italian and Vatican embassies in the one building. But Mr Cooney said he had been talking to Vatican officials on the possibility that Ireland could use Villa Spada in Rome, which housed the Vatican embassy, for both, adding that it depended on more resources being made available. However, he was adopting an approach of “the less said, the better”, since the Vatican would be more likely to relax its rules for Ireland if the negotiations didn’t draw the attention of other countries seeking similar treatment. He also said nobody in Government asked his department to close the embassy, and insisted it was on a cost-cutting shortlist drawn up by his officials. As part of budget cutbacks, Mr Cooney said his department came up with a number of options, which included closing embassies in East Timor and the Vatican together, or East Timor, the Vatican and Tehran, Iran, together.
Details of an event advising Irish expats living in Belgium on how to transfer Irish pension schemes to other EU jurisdictions to avoid paying Irish taxes have been circulated through the official emailing list of Ireland’s Embassy in Belgium. The email, sent on April 19th by a local staff member at the embassy in Brussels, informed those on the mailing list of “an information event about the pension scheme in Ireland” due to be hosted by the Irish Club of Belgium at the Holiday Inn hotel in Brussels on May 15th. “If you have a pension in Ireland please see the second attachment for more details. Kind regards, Embassy of Ireland,” the email read. The information sheet from the deVere Group and STM Malta talked of the “significant advantages” of transferring Irish pension schemes to a “safe EU jurisdiction” such as Malta. It notes that the pensions levy announced in May 2011 and retrospectively enforced from January 1st, 2011, “could be as much as 10 per cent of your pension fund”. It advises readers they are entitled to transfer their pensions to an overseas scheme under the Occupational Pension Schemes and PRSA (overseas transfer payments) Regulations 2003. This scheme, it notes, will not be subject to the pensions levy. “If you live outside Ireland, transferring your pension to a STM Malta QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) will avoid ALL Irish taxes,” it said. In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the message was circulated by a member of the embassy’s local staff acting in good faith at the request of the Irish Club of Belgium. “It was inappropriate for the embassy to appear to promote the event in question and steps have been taken to ensure that a similar mistake does not happen again,” the spokesman said.
A motion to reopen the Irish embassy in the Vatican has been defeated at the Labour party conference in Galway. Delegates rejected a recommendation from Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Joe Costello to refer the motion to the party’s central council and then went on to vote it down on a show of hands. Proposing the motion, Sean Canniffe (Tuam, Co Galway) said the Vatican was the centre of the Catholic world and the embassy was a very important symbol of its relationship with Ireland. “I am not suggesting that anybody who is not a Catholic should believe this, but that is what Catholics believe,” he added. Gerry Kerr (Finglas, Dublin) said the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore had stated unequivocally that the embassy was closed solely for cost-cutting reasons. He said the embassy should be kept closed until the Vatican fully co-operated with the Republic’s inquiries into the sexual abuse of children.
The consular section of the Swiss embassy in Ireland is being moved to London as part of a reorganisation. The small section looks after Swiss nationals living in Ireland and deals with queries about passport and ID cards, visas, immigration and emigration, citizenship requests and registration of births, deaths and marriages. However, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs is making the move as part of a reorganisation of its consular network throughout the world. A statement said that the embassy in Ireland would continue to perform its diplomatic duties, but the consular section was being moved to the Swiss embassy in London. The visa section of the Dublin embassy closed down permanently on April 13 last, it said. Visa applications for Switzerland for tourism, visits and business will now be processed by the Austrian embassy in Dublin, which is at 93 Ailesbury Road. Visa applications for work, study, medical reasons and residence will be processed at the Swiss embassy in London.
The Australian Embassy has blasted a racist advert looking for a bricklayer in Perth which includes the instruction that “no Irish” are wanted. The ad on classifieds website Gumtree states: “Bricklayer needed ASAP. $250 a day, no part-time workers and NO IRISH” – in language reminiscent of the discrimination against the Irish in British cities in the 1950s. A spokesman for the Embassy said: The Australian Government has no tolerance for racism and discrimination and this is reflected in a broad range of anti-discrimination legislation in Australia. “The Government has an unwavering commitment to a multicultural Australia and greatly welcomes the contribution made by people of all backgrounds , regardless of origin, gender, or colour, to Australia’s culture, society, and prosperity,” he added. Simon, the man who placed the ad, defended the move today stating that he was sick of Irish people applying for jobs with no experience. “I have no trouble with Irish people,” he told Independent.ie, but he would not disclose his full name or the name of the company he works for. “But I’ve had to fire a number of people. I’ve had lots of Irish people say they have experience bricklaying but come over and have no clue how to lay bricks. “I’m very busy and don’t have time to be watching over them.” He added that he is well aware of the anti-discriminatory legislation in Australia. The placement of the ad has drawn attention on the internet and twitter. Many of the postings reflected shock at the ad. Two years ago it was claimed that “No Irish need apply” signs were going up on building sites in Poland in a bid to take revenge on some unscrupulous builders who treated their staff badly.
After being evacuated from Iran three months ago, the new British ambassador to Ireland is expecting to experience an easier time in this country. Following a short stint in Tehran, which ended with a vote in parliament to expel him and an attack on his embassy in December, Dominick Chilcot will move to the leafy suburbs of south county Dublin. He succeeds Julian King, who served in Dublin during the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth II last year.