Senator Frank Feighan has called for Ireland to have a debate on the matter of rejoining the (British) Commonwealth.
Speaking in Seanad Éireann this morning he said “Last weekend, I noted with great interest the celebrations of the 125th birthday of John A. Costello. As Senators will know, he was the leader of Fine Gael, a Taoiseach and he also declared Ireland a Republic in 1949. Up until that time, Ireland was an active member of the Commonwealth.”
“Relations are now at an all-time high with the new Commonwealth that has a population of 2.2 billion and is comprised of 53 countries, of which 33 are republics. Since 1971, the Queen has only a titular role in the Commonwealth. Now there is support for world peace, liberty, human rights, equality and free trade so it would be a good time to have a debate on whether the Republic of Ireland should consider rejoining the Commonwealth.”
“There are many Irish people and the Irish diaspora who live in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, so we should not fear rejoining.”
The suggestion surprised Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly who quipped “I did not see that in the Fine Gael manifesto.”
Senator Frank Feighan concluded by saying “We are a mature Republic so we must seek a debate to discuss the economy and the fact that there are 2.2 billion people in the Commonwealth. It is time we took our place again within the Commonwealth. The Republic of Ireland should consider the matter.”
Sinn Fein Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile later reacted to the proposal saying “If I am worried about the democratic deficit in the EU, I would certainly be worried about a democratic deficit in the British Commonwealth.” He added that he was amazed that a member of Fine Gael would suggest such a proposal “in 2016, 100 years after the Easter Rising, when the ideals and visions have not been fulfilled yet.” He concluded by saying “It was a shameful contribution and I hope we will all treat it with the contempt it deserves.”