Archive for Ireland
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …”
A spokesman says Israel’s Foreign Ministry is investigating an anti-Palestinian post on the Facebook page of its embassy in Ireland. The inflammatory post shows an illustration of Jesus and Mary, next to a message the unidentified writer calls “A thought for Christmas.” The message posted Monday read, “If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians.” Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says the post was removed and the embassy apologized immediately after the mission received complaints. Palmor said Tuesday that it wasn’t clear who posted the message. He added, “We all agree that it was improper, inappropriate.”
The official Facebook page of Israel’s embassy to Ireland posted, and then abruptly deleted, a provocative message arguing that “hostile Palestinians” would “lynch” Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary, if they lived in today’s Bethlehem. The town of Jesus’s birth is today part of the Palestinian West Bank. The Facebook message, which begins “A thought for Christmas,” included an image of Jesus and Mary. It was live for about two hours before being deleted. A spokesperson for the embassy told me in an e-mail that “the image and the caption were posted without our consent. It has been removed; in its place now is the following:” “To whom it may concern: An image of Jesus and Mary with a derogatory comment about Palestinians was posted without the consent of the administrator of the Facebook page. We have removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!” The spokesperson did not answer an inquiry to whether there are plans to change how the page is run. This is not the first time that this Facebook page has posted something controversial and on a medium that suggests it’s on behalf of the Israeli government.
The former trade and tourism attache for the Embassy of Lesotho has been awarded more than €40,000 in compensation after claiming she was bullied into quitting her job. A tribunal found that Claire Corcoran was constructively dismissed after she told how she felt there was no option but to resign her €54,000-a-year post. Ms Corcoran, from Baldoyle in north Dublin, said she quit in June 2010 after she was “bullied” by the embassy’s counsellor and first secretary. Ms Corcoran told the tribunal that a year before she resigned, the then-ambassador Mannete Ramaili was under pressure from her government to find a job for the niece of Lesotho’s chief justice, who was living in Ireland. The tribunal ruled that Ms Corcoran acted reasonably by resigning. It awarded Ms Corcoran €40,495.26 in compensation as the most appropriate remedy under the Unfair Dismissals Act.