Where next in British-Irish Relations?

Press release from the Reform Group, Dublin—8 April 2014

The Commonwealth of Nations has radically changed since Ireland left some sixty-five years ago. It is a global organisation with fifty-two countries, thirty-two of which are Republics and where twenty-one million people of Irish descent live. It is led by an elected Secretariat, the British monarch having a purely titular role. It promotes human rights, democracy, gender equality and through the Commonwealth games, a wide range of sporting activities.

At the recent British Irish Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Dublin, Ireland was encouraged to re-enter the Commonwealth of Nations. It would provide Ireland with an additional platform for trade and economic growth, allow Irish athletes to compete further on the world stage via the Commonwealth Games, promote Ireland in countries that have hitherto had limited links with the country over the past 65 years, and strengthen our connections to those countries who are strongly tied to the culture of Britain and Ireland.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s response was positive. He said:

The question of the Commonwealth obviously is one not for an immediate decision but I do think we can build on the trade links that are there.

Kenny added that Ireland does not have the resources to have diplomatic representation in many countries where the Commonwealth exists around the world. He emphasised that the recent trade mission to Singapore, which three ministers from the island of Ireland and Britain led, opened new trade for Ireland. He emphasised that the “Commonwealth has leverage to open new markets”.

We keep being told that relationships between Ireland and the UK have never been better and that reconciliation is top of the agenda. As the President and the Queen meet this week in London, is it now time to “finish the job” in British-Irish relations and bring an independent Republic of Ireland back into the Commonwealth?