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  • Diaspora a reason to rejoin the Commonwealth?

    Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

    A new group urging that Ireland rejoin the Commonwealth has invoked the Irish diaspora in support of the idea.

    In a letter that appeared in the Irish Times, the backers of “Ireland and the Commonwealth” said,

    Members of the Commonwealth share a common heritage and history, including an Irish diaspora of some 20 million people – an international community that seems certain to grow as many people are forced by economic circumstances to emigrate from Ireland.

    The letter continued with an outline of the Commonwealth’s benefits:

    Membership of the Commonwealth is more relevant than ever as Ireland faces its worst economic crisis since the foundation of the state. The county is going to need all the friends and connections it can get in the perilous economic times that lie ahead. The Commonwealth is not an alternative or substitute for Ireland’s membership of other international bodies such as the EU or the UN but it could prove to be an invaluable addition if our worst fears about the global economic crisis are fulfilled.

    Ireland’s membership of the Commonwealth would, we are sure, be welcomed by the unionist community in Northern Ireland as 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.

    A follow-up letter in the Irish Times noted, however, that “‘Commonwealth citizens’ have no extra rights of travel or work – for instance, they need to apply for a visa to visit member-state Australia, just as Irish people do.”

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