Rejoining the Commonwealth?


Sir, – A couple of things occur when reading Mr Justice Richard Humphreys’s piece on Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth (Opinion & Analysis, August 24th). First, in presenting it as utilitarian as well as symbolic, he highlights an important consideration which is often played down. Ireland, he maintains, can get practical advantages if it rejoins, as well as a recognition of those on this island (north and south) who see their identity within a British as well as an Irish tradition. The second point is in regard to practical politics.

At the moment, it is hard to see that this would be a political runner in this jurisdiction. However, in the context of a possible border poll, it could become a live issue, if an Irish government wanted to set out what a united Ireland might look like. A debate on this is therefore timely. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

A chara, – Richard Humphreys has issued a heartfelt plea for Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth. While I have no particular objection to his aim, I must take issue with some of his arguments, such as his comparison of Ireland’s Commonwealth departure to Brexit. The UK chose to leave the EU, but Ireland was ejected from the Commonwealth after becoming a republic (a rule dropped months later to allow India to remain a member).

The Commonwealth we were ejected from is almost identical to the one of today, which is based in London, consists overwhelmingly of former British possessions, works only in English, and has the Queen as its head. The only real change since 1949 is the name.

None of this means Ireland should not rejoin. But let’s be objective. There are no economic or geopolitical gains of the kind that flow from our EU membership. Talking the talk about human rights is fine, but with homosexuality criminalised in 41 of 53 members, legal discrimination against women in many states, and a blind eye turned to political repression, the Commonwealth doesn’t walk the walk.

The only gain for Ireland from rejoining would be symbolic – a signal to British people across the island that Ireland is comfortable with their identity. This is a worthy goal, and a real potential benefit of rejoining the Commonwealth. It may be the only one. – Is mise,




Sir, – High Court judges should reserve their opinions to issues that come before them on the bench. I cannot recall a previous instance of a serving senior judge engaging in an issue of political controversy in the pages of a national newspaper.

If it happened in Britain, the “Mother of the Commonwealth”, he would face calls to resign. – Yours, etc,



Sir, –Are we to have Mr Justice Richard Humphreys share his views on rural broadband, hare coursing, the state of the HSE, Brexit, and the price of the pint?

If a High Court judge wants to debate controversial issues, he should resign and then and only then write a letter to the papers or ring Joe Duffy. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.