Ireland is to close its embassies to the Vatican and Iran as part of a shake-up of its missions abroad, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"It is with the greatest regret and reluctance that the government has decided to close Ireland's embassies to the Holy See and Iran," said a statement from the ministry.

The representative office in East Timor would also be closed as part of the overhaul, which the foreign ministry said was part of efforts to recover from a financial crisis which forced Dublin to accept an IMF-EU bailout.

The Vatican recalled its envoy to Ireland earlier this year amid allegations of helping to cover up a sex abuse affair, which prompted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to launch an unprecedented attack on Church authorities.