It is encouraging to see Tom Cooper (Letters, April 28) entering the debate on Ireland joining the Commonwealth. The Reform Group has promoted this debate on its website (reform.org).
It is regrettable that Mr Cooper suggests membership would lead to the ‘re-Britishing’ of this country. This is not the experience of the 52 members of the Commonwealth, 32 of which are sovereign republics.
The Commonwealth ceased to be Anglo-centric in 1949, when its name was changed from the British Commonwealth. We played a role in this process. The Commonwealth was formed by leaders of national liberation movements, such as Nehru (India), Nyerere (Tanzania), Kuanda (Zambia), and Mandela (South Africa), who brought his country back to the Commonwealth after independence.
The key figure in the Commonwealth is the Secretary-General, not Queen Elizabeth, who is the symbolic head. Queen Elizabeth has no authority to interfere in the affairs of Commonwealth countries.
The Secretary-General carries out the policies of heads of government in promoting democracy, human rights, equality, aid and the rule of law, all in line with the policies of our government.
Benefits include the “impact on trade, environment, and social and economic stability”, to cite the recent words of the Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma.
Reform would argue it is surprising we are not already a member, as the ties between the UK and Ireland have been profoundly strong over the span of history. Many thousands of Irish people move to the UK every year.
About 25% of the British population has some Irish heritage. We share identities, cultures, faiths, language, profession, political and legal structures and, of course, trade on a large scale. Some Commonwealth countries give, and have given, hope and new lives to our youth, providing a safety valve for our unemployed.
Let’s not forget Irish people played a major role in building the Commonwealth at all levels. Mr Cooper’s views about the Commonwealth sadly suggest an insecurity about our relationship with the UK, rather than confidently embracing our independence, while expressing our shared identity within the Commonwealth.
The Reform Group
Irish Examiner – Wednesday, April 30, 2014