Time to rejoin the Commonwealth?

 

Madam, – I refer to the multi-signatory letter of March 23rd suggesting that Ireland should consider Commonwealth membership.

While I believe Ireland should be open to any initiative that would strengthen the peace process and, as the writers say, “draw a line under the troubled history of Anglo-Irish relations”, the letter says a lot about what the Commonwealth does but does not define what it is. The closest to a definition is contained in the statement that “the queen remains head of the Commonwealth, but only as the symbol of a free association of independent countries” – which, as a sentence, is quite incomprehensible.

The letter is correct to say that “today the Commonwealth is an international organisation of 53 states committed to peace and democracy” — but the word “today” is critical, conceding that the Commonwealth was not committed to these ideals previously.

In fact we, the people of Ireland, were very far from being democratically represented when we were originally co-opted into the Commonwealth and therefore we would not be rejoining it but rather joining it for the first time.

I believe that until the signatories to this letter and their supporters openly admit such plain facts in a suitably contrite and deferential manner, Ireland should not even begin to consider their proposal. – Yours, etc,

CIARÁN MAC SAMHRÁIN,

Cnoc an Bhrúin,

Baile Átha Cliath 8 .

Madam, – I think most Irish people would support joining the Commonwealth if it was to Ireland’s advantage. But unfortunately the Commonwealth is a hollow, pointless organisation.

“Commonwealth citizens” have no extra rights of travel or work — for instance, they need to apply for a visa to visit member-state Australia, just as Irish people do. There are no extra rights on the movement of goods or capital — the Commonwealth is not a trade organisation. And despite its claim to support democracy, it includes many countries which fall far short of being functioning democracies.

It seems that the Commonwealth exists in name only and provides, at best, an excuse for an annual foreign junket for politicians. Until the Commonwealth finds a reason to exist, there is no reason for Ireland to join. — Yours, etc,

MARK SUGRUE,

Artane,

Dublin 5.

Madam, – Time to rejoin the Commonwealth? Perhaps the UK should consider rejoining Europe. – Yours etc,

MICHAEL CONNELLY,

South Circular Road,

Limerick.