Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Ireland

Newsline: Israeli embassy in Ireland criticised after social media controversies

‘Somebody on the Israeli foreign-ministry staff in Ireland has a lot of explaining to do,” began the report in the Jewish Press. The article went on to explain how followers of the Twitter account of the Israeli embassy in Dublin had been upset by a tweet: “It’s from 2011: The UN has itself become a tool against Israel. Hitler couldn’t have been made happier”. The tweet was quoting Simon Deng, a South Sudan refugee, and contained a link to a speech Deng made protesting the Durban II conference. The event, sponsored by the United Nations, was boycotted by the United States and Israel, because of criticisms of Israel at a previous conference. The tweet was deleted hours later, after complaints. Several Israeli media outlets reported on the episode. A headline in the Haaretz newspaper read: “Israel’s Ireland embassy: Hitler would have liked the UN.” The “tweet and delete incident” was not the first time the digital-diplomacy output of Israel’s embassy in Dublin has drawn controversy. Last December, the embassy posted an image of Jesus and Mary on its Facebook page, accompanied by the following text: “A thought for Christmas . . . If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians.” The post was deleted within hours, but not before it had gone viral on social media and attracted international media attention.


Newsline: Ex-ambassador’s son among dead in Nairobi mall massacre

The only son of the former Kenyan ambassador to Ireland was among dozens killed by terrorists in a Nairobi shopping mall at the weekend. Mbugua Mwangi, the son of Catherine Muigai Mwangi who recently returned home following a six-year posting here, was killed with his fiancee, Rosemary Wahito, during the attack on Saturday morning. Mr Mwangi is also the nephew of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, and was the person he referred to when he said he had lost family in the attack at the Westgate shopping mall that killed dozens and left more than 150 injured. The Kenyan embassy in Dublin last night said a book of condolences would be opened over the coming days.


Newsline: Nigerian embassy worker claims immunity in Ireland over order to pay €46,000 wage bill

Nigerian embassy employee in Dublin has pleaded diplomatic immunity after being told to pay a worker she employed in her home more than €46,000 for failure to pay the minimum wage. The Labour Court ordered Rosemary Kifordu, with an address in Foxrock, Dublin, to pay Vivian George Udoka, also from Nigeria, €45,918 in arrears of wages and €500 in expenses. But Kifordu pleaded diplomatic immunity, and to date Ms Udoka (21) has received nothing since she was forced to flee the Foxrock home in May 2011 after working for almost two years without pay. The Nigerian embassy did not comment on the case, but said that Kifordu has returned to Nigeria. The Migrant Rights Centre, which campaigns for basic rights for migrant workers, has called on Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore to address what it sees as an abuse of diplomatic immunity.


Newsline: Embassy in Mexico to aid Irish woman in drugs case

The Irish embassy in Mexico will be the main point of contact for a young Irish woman held by in Peru by police on suspicion of drug trafficking. Michaella McCollum Connolly (20), from Belfast, was arrested on Tuesday at Jorge Chávez International Airport in the Peruvian capital, Lima. She and a Scottish national, Melissa Reid (19), were trying to board a flight to Madrid in Spain, which was travelling on to Palma Mallorca. Peruvian police said the two were being questioned following the discovery of more than 11.5kg of cocaine – estimated to be worth about €1.7 million – in their luggage. Together with the consular team in Dublin, the Irish embassy in Mexico will provide support and diplomatic assistance to Ms McCollum Connolly and her family. A spokeswoman from the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that officials from the embassy had been in contact with the photography student. She said staff of the British embassy in Peru had also been to visit her and would be providing assistance, particularly “on the ground”, as Ireland doesn’t have an embassy in the country. The most recent honorary consul for Ireland, Michael Russell, finished his term at the end of July. Two girls were charged for carrying half of the cocaine each and found guilty they would face a sentence of about seven years. The pair were likely to get parole after doing about a third of their term and would have to finish their sentence in their home countries, if at all. Under Peruvian law, the women can be held for up to 15 days without charge. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it could not comment on the specific circumstances because it was providing diplomatic assistance.


Newsline: Renovation of Ireland’s embassies sparks controversy

A lack of accountability has been uncovered during a probe into how and why budgets spiralled during the renovation of our embassies and ambassadors’ residences. Concern was first raised in 2010 when it emerged that the official residence in Ottawa, Canada, had been refurbished to a luxury standard. A jacuzzi, sauna, powder-room, art gallery, and wine cellar were all included in the revamp of the Rockcliffe property which dwarves the official residence of the Canadian prime minister. At the time the expenditure was defended by the then foreign minister, Micheál Martin, who said overseas missions played an important role for the country. However an internal audit was commissioned by the department’s secretary general following criticism of the Canadian construction scheme.


Newsline: Eastern European embassy man questioned in Dublin

Gardai stopped and questioned a man attached to an eastern European embassy after a report that he had been stalking a lone woman in Dublin city centre. The man was stopped after he followed the woman in his car. The woman called 999 after the man, driving a powerful black executive car with ‘CD’ plates, repeatedly pulled up beside her and stared into her car. When she finally pulled up at a busy taxi rank on Burgh Quay the man pulled up directly behind her, she said. When gardai arrived the prestige car sped off up the quays pursued by two garda cars. They pulled his car over at the Civic Offices. According to sources, the embassy official refused to leave his car and kept saying the name of his country and “embassy”. He showed them his diplomatic passport. The man “smelled of drink”, according to sources. After gardai verified the man was entitled to diplomatic immunity he was let go.


Newsline: French embassy offices in Dublin on sale

The offices of the French embassy – the Chancery, as it is known – have gone on sale, asking €5.5 million. This compares dramatically with the €20 million sought for the two-storey house on an acre of gardens when it came to market in 2008. At that time the French ambassador’s residence across the road – a magnificent 11-bed mansion on 1.75 acres – was also on the market, with an extraordinary asking price of €60 million. It is estimated the residence would now fetch about €15 million. It’s academic anyway, as Simon Ensor of Sherry FitzGerald says the residence is not for sale. So why the change of heart, when five years ago both properties were on the table? It seems a complete French withdrawal from Dublin’s exclusive embassy belt did not go down so well back home and expats were concerned that the emerald in their Irish crown – the residence – would be lost forever. And so we have le compromise. The French must be happy enough to sell off the Chancery, which stands on some of the city’s most valuable land.


Newsline: Libya plans to open embassy in Ireland

Plans are under way to open a Libyan embassy in Ireland before the end of the year to increase bilateral co-operation between the two countries after the fall of Muammar Gadafy. The embassy would cater for Ireland’s large Libyan population, the second biggest Libyan diaspora in Europe after Britain’s. Since the 1960s, Libyans have come to Ireland for professional or educational reasons, and many have stayed, often marrying Irish citizens. Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello met Libya’s deputy prime minister Al-Sadeq Abdulkareem on the sidelines of the Syria donor conference in Kuwait last month. They discussed the possibility of an official visit. Plans are being drawn up for a delegation of Libyan officials and business people to visit Ireland soon.


Newsline: Ireland’s U-turn on Tehran embassy

The Irish government was warned against jeopardising Ireland’s potentially lucrative exports market with Iran by closing its Tehran embassy – all to save the modern-day equivalent of €259,000 a year. Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Collins had examined the consequences of shutting down the embassy after the previous government had decided to close it “as a money-saving measure”. But the department said the minister was satisfied there were “compelling reasons” for reversing that decision and that he was supported in his view by several other government departments.


Newsline: Israel Foreign Ministry rushes to apologize over embassy ‘Jesus’ post

The Foreign Ministry has launched a probe into the posting of a Facebook message by the Israel embassy in Ireland that said if Jesus and Mary were alive today in Bethlehem, they would probably be lynched by local Arabs. Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, “We all agree that it was improper, inappropriate.” The post included a picture of Jesus and Mary accompanied by a message saying, “A thought for Christmas … If Jesus and Mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought …”



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