RCS Ireland was pleased to support this important occasion, in which the historical, enduring, and future links between Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations were officially discussed in the Irish Senate. Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs was represented by Helen McEntee, TD, Minister for European Affairs, during the event that occurred on 01 May 2018.

The proceedings began with a powerful speech from Senator Feighan, followed by coverage of the position of the Irish government on Ireland’s relationship with the Commonwealth. The commencement of the motion stated: ‘The need for the Minister for Foreign Affairs to explore more associations and friendships with the Commonwealth of Nations to further encourage political, trading, cultural, sporting, educational and foreign aid partnerships.’ Senator Feighan presented the following remarks

“As many of you here will be aware, I have spoken publicly on this issue many times. In this era of Brexit, my call to explore the potential benefits of rejoining the Commonwealth of Nations continues to provoke an interesting response. Many of us here are democratic Irish nationalists and proud Europeans. But we now live in a time when our future relationship with Britain will be shaped by Brexit and that is why I believe it is very important that we seek to develop and nurture new relationships.

The stark reality of Brexit is already biting at fundamental levels. Here is just one example: up until recently, an average of 26 daily meetings took place between Irish and UK officials. Those regular meetings between British and Irish diplomats and politicians at a European level were instrumental in fostering good relations and understanding between the two islands.

In my own personal opinion, I believe ours and the UK’s joint entry into the EEC forty-five years ago paved the way for the Anglo-Irish and Good Friday agreements – and both agreements have delivered peace and a shared future to our two islands.

In terms of relationship building, I don’t think it is a coincidence that Ireland has recently applied for observer status to join the Francophonie, a club of Frenchspeaking states. The 57-member Commonwealth-style organisation is a way of fostering links between French-speaking countries. I have consistently encouraged a debate on the merits of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth of Nations. Indeed, I believe by doing so, the Republic of Ireland could pioneer the way for new relationships with Commonwealth countries – which includes the UK – and the EU itself.

The Republic already has very strong links with Commonwealth countries in terms of aid, trade, politics, education, common legal systems, diaspora and sport. Notably, seventy per cent of the people born on the island of Ireland residing overseas live in Commonwealth countries. Indeed, it’s estimated that more than 20 million people of Irish origin live within Commonwealth countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The current Commonwealth, with a combined population of 2.3 billion people, comprises 53 countries, 31 of which are republics like ourselves. In terms of foreign aid support, the Commonwealth has helped lift many countries out of poverty and many of its member states are not just developing nations but also hi-tech
countries such as India and South Africa.

For those who are not familiar with the Commonwealth, it is a goodwill organisation which performs a positive global role. And it is not the British Commonwealth of old; it is the modern Commonwealth of Nations which was renamed in 1949 to accommodate Republics such as ours. It is also important to say here that the United Kingdom is one of 53 members, with less than 3% of the population – so suffice to say that Britain is still an important member of the Commonwealth but no longer the boss. Furthermore, the Queen is the titular head at present but carries no power – she is just the symbol of free association within Commonwealth nations – the majority of which are republics with five being monarchs of royal houses in different countries.

Let’s be clear here. I am very much a realist and I know that the debate about Commonwealth membership for the Republic of Ireland will involve examining many issues, complexities and sensitivities. However, I am also of the firm conviction that if we put our old prejudices to one side when we look at the merits of rejoining the Commonwealth of Nations, we will find much value in what I am proposing. But the most important reason I am calling again for this debate on rejoining the Commonwealth is that if we truly desire a united Ireland, one Ireland or a shared island, then we must show our unionist friends that we are not afraid to take this leap of faith.

And who knows, into the future, we could look forward to our two islands cooperating, North, South, East and West, on many new fronts – sporting being just one of them. Can we all not envisage the possibility of seeing island of Ireland teams such as hockey, and many other sports, competing in future Commonwealth Games? And can we also not dare to dream that such possibilities could help pave the way for an all-Island soccer team competing in future World Cups and European championships? I think all of this is worthy of serious consideration. Thank you”


RCS Ireland congratulate Senator Feighan for his excellent remarks and we are encouraged by the response from Minister McEntee. Coverage of the event, the Minister’s response, and follow up remarks from Senator Feighan, are available via the following link (0.33mins – 0.44mins):


RCS Ireland Team.

The world Celebrated Comonwealth Day including us in Ireland

Commonwealth Day 2018 in Ireland

Commonwealth Day was celebrated around the world today and the occasion was marked in Ireland with an event at the Australian Embassy in Dublin. The team at RCS Ireland were delighted to support this wonderful event that reflects the nation’s enduring bonds with a commonwealth of 53 nations, 32 of which are republics.

Enjoying the Commonwealth Day in Ireland 2018With a large group of diplomats, politicians, journalists, academics, and other guests in attendance, the following remarks were presented by Mr Simon Mamouney, Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Ireland:

“ Ambassadors, Senators, Ladies and Gentlemen; First of all congratulations to the Irish Oireachtas Rugby team for their win against Scotland, although it was overshadowed by another Irish win over Scotland, which also brought Ireland the bigger prize of the Six Nations crown this year. Congratulations to Ireland and good luck in pursuit of the grand slam. We have apologies from Senator Frank Feighan. I understand he is attending the multicultural, multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey.

This Commonwealth Day precedes two very important events. Beginning next month from 4-15 April 2018, the Gold Coast in Australia will host the 21st Commonwealth Games. While continuing on the rugby theme, these games will see Women’s Rugby Sevens making its Commonwealth Games debut. Another more important first, coming so soon after we celebrated International Women’s Day, is that for the first time at a Commonwealth Games, an equal number of men’s and women’s medals events will be contested.

Commonwealth Day in Ireland 2018The second event happens straight after the games with the UK hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London from 16-20 April 2018. With the Queen in attendance and being hosted in London, this will be a very important meeting indeed for the future direction of the Commonwealth.

We should not underestimate the power and potential of the Commonwealth. Let me indulge in a few statistics:

· The Commonwealth Games is the second biggest athletics event in the world
· The Commonwealth is home to 2.4 billion people
· 60 percent of that population is under 30
· 53 nations within the Commonwealth
· 30 nations of the Commonwealth are small states
· The difference in population of nations within the Commonwealth is vast, with India having 1.2 billion, the Nauru having 10,000

Though the Commonwealth needs to be relevant, the question is often asked, what use is the Commonwealth? I’ll conclude with a few words from the Queen in her Commonwealth Day message, which I think make a powerful statement:

“We all have reason to give thanks for the numerous ways in which our lives are enriched when we learn from others. Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future. There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division.”

With such a goal and undertaking, in light of the divisions facing us across the globe, let us work towards celebrating such diversity in the Commonwealth. Happy Commonwealth Day everyone.”

Ireland’s Senator Neale Richmond also addressed the event and delivered the following remarks:

Commonwealth Day 2018 thanks to the Austrilian embassy for hosting“I am very grateful to Simon and the Australian Embassy for hosting us this year for Commonwealth Day. The Commonwealth offers Ireland another window to the world where we can build on existing relations to solidify our aim to be an island at the centre of the world.

The theme of a shared future for this year’s Commonwealth Day is particularly relevant for Ireland as we embark on a new chapter of relations with our nearest neighbours in the UK. Even though this relationship will be changed due to Brexit, our relationship will continue and we must try to build a shared future that is as close to our present as is possible.

A new approach to the Commonwealth would offer Ireland opportunities in many areas, particularly sport. Irish competitors from the North and the South such as Mary Peters, Barry McGuigan and Paddy Barnes have achieved great success in previous games. I look forward to cheering on the Northern Irish athletes at the Gold Coast games in April and one day hope to see Irish athletes from across our island competing in what are the second largest games in the world.”

RCS Ireland is grateful to the Australian Embassy in Dublin for hosting this excellent event and we look forward to supporting Ireland’s continued bonds with the Commonwealth of Nations.

If you would like to download a PDF version of this article you can do so by clicking on the highlighted link Commonwealth Day PDF

RCS Ireland Team.