As Commonwealth leaders again meet, Ireland is not even close to joining the association

News Letter editorial on Monday June 20 2022:

By Editorial
Monday, 20th June 2022, 6:41 am
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 6:49 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

There are few more obvious challenges to the idea of a ‘new Ireland’ than the Republic’s attitude to the Commonwealth.

It will not join the alliance, which is made up of countries around the world that have a former link to Britain.

The diversity of nations represented in it is remarkable — some of the most dynamic nations on earth, ranging from Australia, to India, to Singapore, to Nigeria, to Canada.

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Many of the countries that are part of the Commonwealth suffered codified racial discrimination under colonial rule, yet they put that terrible past behind them and generously instead look to the connections and kinship that come from a shared historical and cultural link to Britain.

Yet Ireland, which was not a colony, but rather an integral part of the UK and had full representative democracy in Westminster after 1801, has never even come close to joining this friendly global association.

In fact, almost comically, it joined as an observer the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, which is the French equivalent of the Commonwealth, yet Ireland is not a French speaking country (one of the most obvious bonds in the Commonwealth is the English language).

If Ireland was in the Commonwealth its athletes would compete at the games.

A recent poll showed that there is no appetite in the Republic to take such a modest step as joining the Commonwealth in order to reassure people on this island of the British tradition.

This week the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Rwanda.

Ahead of the summit, Boris Johnson has said that the UK’s membership of the organisation provides a “unique opportunity” to expand its trade with a series of “vast and growing” markets now that it has left the EU.

So it does, and let us hope that the meting goes well.