DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson calls for the Republic to rejoin the Commonwealth

Senior unionist says Brexit risks putting up more ‘scaffolding’ around Belfast Agreement

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has called for the Republic to rejoin the Commonwealth. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has called for the Republic to rejoin the Commonwealth. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Senior DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has called on the Republic to rejoin the Commonwealth.

Mr Donaldson made the comments as he attended the Fine Gael national conference in Wexford to debate North-South relations alongside the SDLP’s Claire Hanna and the leader of the Alliance Party, Naomi Long.

During his contribution to the discussion, Mr Donaldson hit out at Sinn Féin and said that they need to help restore the powersharing executive in the North and “stop holding Northern Ireland and the rest of us to ransom”.

He also called for the Republic to rejoin the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth is a place where Ireland’s voice should be heard and I would like to see that happen,” he said.

The MP noted that there was a danger that Brexit will put up more “scaffolding” around the Belfast Agreement.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who also spoke during the debate, said afterwards that he did not think rejoining the Commonwealth was on the table.

“This has been something that Senator Frankie Feighan has been making the case for for many months, if not years.

“What you saw in the meeting was wanting to show some warmth towards Jeffrey Donaldson. I think people recognise that it was a big deal for him to come here and to take part in the Brexit debate.

“Fine Gael is a generous party and want him to feel welcome. I think there is some support within the party for looking anew at the Commonwealth but not a majority support at this stage.

“We have an open mind and there will be an active debate.”

When asked if it was something he would be in favour of, he said it was not on his agenda.

“I think we need to resolve a lot of very significant problems in the coming months and in the remaining lifetime of the Government.

“We have some very serous challenges in Northern Ireland to get a functioning Assembly and Executive working again.”

Asked directly if rejoining the Commonwealth was on the table, he said: “I don’t think so.”