New UK Ambassador to Vatican an Irish Catholic

Pendennis in the Observer got it right when he reported that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would announce “a practising Irish Catholic in his mid-thirties” is to be the new British ambassador to the Vatican. The announcement of the appointment of Francis Campbell, 35, was made today. Campbell, a former foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair, will be the first Irishman to represent the UK abroad since the partition of Ireland in 1921. It seems incredible, considering the millions of Irish emigrants to Britain in the last 85 years, that Campbell will be the first in that time.

  • smcgiff

    ‘a practising Irish Catholic’

    How can one be a practicing IRISH Catholic?

    Does that mean you say your prayers while covered in Shamrocks?

    Besides, is it possible for an Irish person to be a UK ambassador?

  • George

    Oops smcgiff,
    forgot the quotation marks. The description is from Pendennis.

    I don’t know the requirements to become an ambassador. Maybe he’s one of those rare breed of people who are both British and Irish? They are supposed to exist you know.

  • It’s a completely absurd statement. My distant cousin Dermot MacDermot was an Irish Catholic who served as British ambassador to Indonesia in the 1950s and Thailand in the 1960s. Congratulations to Mr Campbell on his appointment, but he is certainly not the first.

  • ganching

    It is certainly possible for an Irish person to be a civil servant especially one who is Northern Irish.

    I’d say it was his middle name,Martin-Xavier, that swung it for him.

  • finn69

    “It seems incredible, considering the millions of Irish emigrants to Britain in the last 85 years, that Campbell will be the first in that time”

    judging by some of the comments here, i’m surprised its only been 85 years

    “Hod carrying experience on building sites wasn’t considered relevant when applying for ambassador jobs”

    surely a case of playing an entire race not the ball

  • D’Oracle

    I am absolutely shocked by this extremely worrying development ; I’m not sure why yet, however -but I’ll come up with some half-baked reason later.

    Has it been revealed at all by the way exactly which of these shocking adjectives hes been practising at -being Irish or Catholic. It’d hardly be both would it !?

    I reckon it would have to be the Catholic one for at least two reasons
    -the Pope is also seemingly Catholic, and of course
    -being Irish wouldnt be very useful quality for a British Ambassador. This would be especially true if he was also not a Catholic which is, of course, not al all relevant in this particular case

    I’m tired..its been a long day

  • Carlos Blancos

    Yeah, ridiculous statement about 1st Irish rep. Don’t know his name but I think that a UK ambassador to China in the 1990s went to B.R.A. so I assume he’s Irish of some description.

    Very young to have any ambassadorship. Congrats.

    Wonder what school he went to?

  • Biffo

    “Wonder what school he went to?”

    Bearnageeha, maybe?

  • Mick Fealty

    He’s from Newry apparently. The Abbey School maybe? He’s reportedly close to Blair. He joins another Francis (Rooney), who’s just been appointed as US Ambassador to the Vatican.

  • aonghus

    Zenits (Vatican based news agency) take on the story:

    Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II appointed Francis Campbell ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Holy See, the first Catholic named to the post since Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1534.

    At 35, Campbell will be the youngest UK ambassador. He is the first Irish Catholic to be elevated to ambassador since the republic of Ireland was granted independence in 1921

  • Elvis

    Seems to me to be an able chap who didnt let his identity or religion hold him back from working at the heart of the British Establishment.
    His peers living in NI could learn alot
    Undoubtedly he would dismissed as SF/IRA as a collaborator

  • Mick Fealty

    Well that would seem to be Zenit and Pendennis both wrong footed! If proven, I think we should expect a correction and clarification from the latter at least!

  • Wonder what school he went to?

    He went to Violet Hill in Newry.

    Undoubtedly he would dismissed as SF/IRA as a collaborator

    He’s an erstwhile SDLP activist, so he’d probably get accused of that anyway.

  • D’Oracle

    Maybe a bit of symetrical action is called for here and the Irish Free State needs to appoint a practising British Protestant as its Ambassador to the Holy See if only to sort the Zenits guys out on a few basic.”

    “…The republic of Ireland was granted independence in 1921, indeed ;”Granted” doesnt even begin to describe 1921 and the Republic didnt came until 28 years later

  • Soupcat

    “His peers living in NI could learn a lot from him” – This is fair to say but I’d presume not in the sad way that the statement was intended.

    Francis was an one-time SDLP activist. His school was also correctly asserted as Violet Hill or St Colman’s College as it’s otherwise known.

    Francis is a personal friend, a gentleman in every sense of the word, having attended seminary at one stage with priestly intentions deciding against that and opting for a career in politics.

  • Adrian

    Been for a pint with him. He’s a good guy.