2019 New Year Message from the Royal Commonwealth Society Ireland
31 December 2019
Fáilte chuig an gCumann Comhlathais Ríoga, Brainse na hÉireann. Season’s greetings from the leadership team of the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) in Ireland.
This year has been another dynamic and productive year for our Branch. RCS Ireland has continued to promote knowledge regarding the peoples and countries of the Commonwealth in Ireland. We have maintained the best traditions of the Commonwealth and fostered dialogue and reflection on matters of common interest in culture, human rights, and prosperity.
The Branch has successfully raised awareness and understanding of the Commonwealth in Ireland and served as a visible link to the Commonwealth for those living in Ireland who originate from Commonwealth countries. We remain committed to enhancing peace, reconciliation and prosperity across the island of Ireland and throughout the Commonwealth.
Finally, we continue to support Ireland’s re-entry into the Commonwealth, should this be the wish of the Irish people.
CELEBRATING THE COMMONWEALTH IN IRELAND
During 2019, we were delighted to once again assist and support the hosting of a major event to promote and celebrate the Commonwealth in Ireland. This year saw our friends in the Nigerian Embassy in Ireland hold a large multi-national gathering to reflect Ireland’s enduring bonds with a Commonwealth of 53 nations, 32 of which are republics. This special event entailed Commonwealth Ambassadors in Ireland being joined by Irish politicians, business leaders, journalists, solicitors, healthcare professionals, academics, and others.
A Shared Culture
The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria H.E. (Dr) Mrs. Emenike provided the keynote address. She spoke eloquently of the enduring and strong links between Nigeria and Ireland, whilst emphasising the wonderful benefits experienced by countries who share membership of the Commonwealth.
Ambassador Emenike conveyed the common values and social bonds that are shared across each country in the Commonwealth, including democracy, human rights, tolerance and respect, sustainable development, and protecting the environment.
Business and Politics
During the celebration, Mr John O’Keeffe, President of Diageo Africa offered an outstanding presentation on the business ties between Ireland and Commonwealth countries, with particular emphasis on the trade and cultural links between Diageo and Nigeria.
He spoke of the many future business, economic, and social opportunities that exist for Ireland in developing further associations with the Commonwealth.
He added that such bonds are especially important for rural and agricultural businesses in Ireland, with a recognition of the need for new markets and international relationships following Brexit.
A Future in Common
This year also saw our friend, the Vice-Chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Irish Senator Frank Feighan, once again provide strong Irish representation during the annual Commonwealth Day events in London.
Over 70% of Irish-born people living abroad reside in countries that are members of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth provides opportunities for people, governments and institutions across a global association of nations that connect and cooperate on various levels though far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill.
The 2019 theme for the Commonwealth was ‘A Connected Commonwealth’, and such values, opportunities, and objectives are fundamentally shared with Ireland’s international priorities.
A GLOBAL IRELAND AND THE COMMONEALTH
During 2019, we at RCS Ireland were delighted to support the development of stronger collaboration between the RCS and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). This development will support shared projects and joint working, whilst capitalising on shared expertise and experience.
There is now even greater opportunities for new links between the CLGF and local governments across Ireland.
RCS Ireland also remains active in developing new links across cultural, political, and business entities and we were honoured to once again receive invitations to the Summer Garden Party at the British Ambassador’s residence in Dublin.
RCS Ireland was furthermore pleased to foster new links between the Branch and our RCS friends in Toronto, Canada. During 2019, one of supporters, Mr R. Bury, was invited to deliver a presentation to our Canadian colleagues.
The event was well attended and afforded an excellent opportunity to review the history of Ireland and the Commonwealth, the nature of our departure from the organisation, details of our enduring association with the values and culture of the Commonwealth, and our work RCS Ireland in supporting debate on our potential re-entry.
Thank you to all who attended and helped to strengthen the bonds between our Branches. We look forward to enhancing and establishing bonds with our fellow international RCS Branches in the year ahead.
We again thank all our colleagues and supporters. The coming year will see many geopolitical changes, not least the UK’s departure from the European Union. This and other challenges will afford significant opportunities for discussion on Ireland’s association with the Commonwealth.
The year ahead also marks the fifth anniversary of our Branch and we look forward to new prospects to strengthen the links between Ireland and the Commonwealth.