An Irish politician is spearheading a drive for Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth
Frank Feighan has reopened the debate about the merits of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
The Fine Gael senator, from county Roscommon, is highlighting the economic and trade benefits of joining an organisation of 52 countries which has a population of 2.3billion.
Many sports in Ireland are organised on an all-island basis, such as rugby, rowing, hockey and cricket.
Mr Feighan said there was a "possibility” that Ireland’s hockey team and rugby youth team could compete in future Commonwealth competitions.
He said: ”We have to look at ways of improving our relationship, particularly after Brexit.
“We have to extend the hand of friendship to our near neighbours.”
Irish politician Frank Feighan
Claiming it would lead to a strengthening of Ireland’s international economic and cultural ties, he continued: ”I would like to pose the question that if Ireland did rejoin the Commonwealth, could we not then see the real possibility of an All-Ireland team competing in the Commonwealth Games?”
We have to look at ways of improving our relationship after Brexit
He continued: ”Would we not all welcome the concept of Ireland as one hosting the Commonwealth Games, an event which would be of huge benefit to our country?
"Such possibilities could eventually pave the way for the formation of an All-Ireland soccer team.”
The Commonwealth is a group of 53 countries that are or were colonies of the British Empire.
Many sports in Ireland are organised on an all-island basis such as rugby
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Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949 when it became an independent republic.
Mr Feighan added: “Among the Commonwealth’s many noble objectives is the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights, good governance and social and economic development.
“Yes, there will be detractors from obvious quarters about the notion of re-joining the Commonwealth but would such a move not fit perfectly with this new era of political and religious tolerance on our islands?”
Mr Feighan’s campaign was warmly received last night by the Royal Commonwealth Society which promotes the value and the values of the Commonwealth’s members.
The director, Michael Lake, said:”We would totally welcome this. We have been working with Ireland for 18 months.
“Everybody accept that the political agenda would be a difficult and drawn out process.
“But there is a great deal of goodwill in Ireland for UK.
The Commonwealth is a group of 53 countries that are or were colonies of the British Empire
“Not least for the £5 billion loan we made to Ireland when it was going through economic problems.”
He said Ireland wanted to find ways to secure trade relationships with Britain in a post-Brexit era.
He said it would be perverse of Brussels to put Ireland into a position which threatened the peace and reconciliation process.
Mr Lake added:”Ideally, Ireland would join the Commonwealth.
“But it’s likely to be a long, gentle process with maybe some sort of associate membership.”