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