Ireland and the Commonwealth – Towards Membership

51y5dcl6ool-_sx331_bo1204203200_2009 marked the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s departure from the Commonwealth, and many Reform members were enthusiastically involved in this year’s campaign to encourage Ireland to now consider returning to the Commonwealth.

A joint letter to the Irish Times (3 March 2009) set out some of the main reasons to consider rejoining, and was signed by leading public figures from all parts of Ireland and these islands – including Alliance Party Leader David Ford MLA, PUP leader Dawn Purvis MLA, Lord Rana, Senator Eoghan Harris and academics such as Professor Brice Dickson and Professor Geoffrey Roberts:

Madam, – As Ireland approaches the 60th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic, is it time to reconsider the country’s membership of the Commonwealth? When Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949 the other member-states hoped its departure would be temporary. In the 1920s and 1930s the Irish Free State had played a crucial role in the transformation of the British Commonwealth into an association of free, democratic and sovereign states. After Ireland left, the Commonwealth continued to evolve.

Ireland’s membership of the Commonwealth would, we are sure, be welcomed by the unionist community in Northern Ireland as a significant gesture of reconciliation. It would add to the collaborative framework established by the Belfast and St Andrew’s agreements. It would demonstrate unequivocally that the Republic has finally drawn a line under the troubled history of Anglo-Irish relations that led to Ireland’s self-exclusion from the Commonwealth 60 years ago. It would represent a further important step along the road to a pluralist Ireland in which different identities are recognised and respected, a country that celebrates its multi-cultural heritage and diverse history.

Reform has now published a new book, bringing together a collection of articles, speeches and reports by prominent academics, authors and political commentators on the important question of whether or not Ireland should return to the Commonwealth.

The book includes articles by: Bruce Arnold, Amitav Banerji, Robin Bury, John Erskine, Roy Garland, Gordon Lucy, Mary Kenny, Prof. Robert Martin, Dr. Martin Mansergh TD, Andrew MacKinlay MP, John-Paul McCarthy, Prof. Geoff Roberts and others.

Many of the contributors are in favour of rejoining – although the book also includes a speech by Dr. Martin Mansergh TD arguing that Ireland should not rejoin.

Reform hopes that this new book will be a timely and interesting contribution to the ongoing debate on Commonwealth membership.

You can download or order the book at Lulu, or order it at Amazon.

or any good bookshop: ISBN-10: 0-95615-771-8, ISBN-13: 978-09561577-1-3

There is more to the world than Germany and France

Joseph Stiglitz, George Osborne & David McWilliams will be speaking next week (15–17 May) at Google Zeitgeistminds panel on the Euro and EU periphery.

Joseph Stiglitz previously made reference to the economic benefits of Commonwealth membership in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009:

“The combined thrust of economic growth and democratic values in Commonwealth countries complements the argument made by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz at the Commonwealth Business Forum held in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009, regarding the three pillars of successful development strategy: markets, governments, and individuals. As he emphasised recent decades have seen marked changes in thinking, not only about what successful development means but also how to go about it. Development is about transforming the lives of people not just about transforming economies. Policies need to be looked at through this double lens: how they promote growth and how they affect individuals directly. For this to happen, Stiglitz identified communities working together as the fourth pillar of successful development. The Commonwealth offers such a community for the realisation of the ‘New World’ that Joseph Stiglitz says is necessary to make globalisation work for the many rather than the few.”

David McWilliams has described in his column that Ireland needs to enter into additional spheres of orbit. Perhaps Ireland joining the Commonwealth is the answer and in Ireland’s selfish and economic interests:

“Today, small countries like Ireland could take a leaf out of the book of the old city-states. Instead of committing ourselves totally to one sphere of orbit, we could play a trading game, seeing where the big powers’ interests have shifted and altering our own policy accordingly.Events of recent days have shown how dangerous it is to be dependent on one large trading bloc. It is clear our Government was slapped down on burden sharing at the last minute. In a world of free moving capital, this humiliation has to be acted on. Maybe Barack Obama’s visit next month, along with that of Queen Elizabeth, will open our eyes to the fact that there is more to the world than Germany and France”

Also by David McWilliams: We need to show ECB it’s not the only show in town