SEANAD EIREANN DISCUSSES

SEANAD EIREANN DISCUSSES IRELAND’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS

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): http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=38313&&CatID=129

 

RCS Ireland Team.
www.rcsireland.org

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.

RCS Ireland Welcomes Commonwealth Ambassadors at Government Buildings, Dublin

 

RCS Ireland were honoured to welcome Ireland’s Commonwealth Ambassadors to Leinster House in Dublin. Held at Ireland’s Government Buildings, the event served to highlight and strengthen the enduring bonds between Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations.

 

With Senator Feighan as our host, the delegation meet with several Irish parliamentarians to discuss trade, sport, culture and international relations. The gathering concluded with a formal meal and a commitment to develop Ireland’s association with the Commonwealth.

 

RCS Ireland holds Commonwealth Event at the House of Lords

 

 

We look back at the recent Royal Commonwealth Society international meeting for RCS Branches in London. The meeting was preceded by a two day youth programme. The purpose of the week was to support the future of RCS networks, share experiences and knowledge and to facilitate interaction and relationship-building between branches, youth groups and the RCS in London.

The youth programme provided a platform for young people to connect with like-minded individuals, build leadership skills and identify how to instigate change in the Commonwealth. Opportunity was created to feed into the branch programme and to connect with branch members and RCS Regional Co-ordinators. Read the blog written by youth delegate and the RCS Youth Regional Co-ordinator for Africa, Gideon Commey.

The three day branch programme, attended by 81 delegates from 30 branches around the world and was opened by RCS President, Lord Howell and followed with a day of branch-lead sessions, kindly hosted by the High Commission of New Zealand. Day two addressed the programmes, research & policy and youth & education work of the Society and included speakers from RCS partners The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and Comic Relief. On the third morning, delegates were pleased to attend sessions, kindly run by experts on Communications, Fundraising, Brand and The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

Outside of the meetings delegates were invited to a magnificent concert given by ABRSM, to a tour of Westminster Abbey and to Afternoon Tea at the House of Lords, sponsored by RCS Ireland Branch.

The RCS is grateful to the High Commissions of Australia, Canada, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria and Zambia for their support and hospitality.

The Youth Programme, Branch Programme and Speaker Biographies are available to read online or to download. Notes from the meeting are available to branch members on request as are some of the presentations.

RCS Ireland closed the international meeting with a special event at the House of Lords, with the support of Lord Rana and Lord Howell. The gathering saw a large international Commonwealth delegation enjoy a showcase of Ireland’s enduring relationship with the Commonwealth of Nations. Speeches were delivered by Irish Senator Feighan, Director of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Mr McGrane, and Lord Howell, President of the RCS.

 

RCS International Branch Meetings were previously held every second year. On hold since 2013, during the period of change in London, all were delighted at the opportunity to resume the biennial programme.

Article sourced in part from www.thercs.org

Pakistani Ambassador to Ireland discusses Ireland’s relationship with the Commonwealth


HE Dr Rizwan, Pakistani Ambassador to Ireland hosted a special event in Dublin on 13 March 2017. The occasion marked Commonwealth Day and mirrored events around the world that celebrated the values and work of the modern Commonwealth of Nations. Ambassador Rizwan emphasised the shared heritage that Ireland holds with member-nations within the Commonwealth.

 

Ambassador Rizwan added that across history, nations and peoples throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa have settled and influenced other nations. These practices reflect the context of wealth, culture, and societies at those times in history. However, Ireland, like Pakistan, is a proud Republic and the countries of the modern Commonwealth of Nations share so much with each other and have so much to give and receive from each other.

 

He emphasised that like any other Commonwealth country, Ireland, though a former member of the Commonwealth, is linked with those in the Commonwealth in so many ways. Ireland, along with all Commonwealth countries, shares an appreciation for science, rationality and human rights; along with shared parliamentary values, and common language, legal, commercial, business, sporting and trade connections.

 

The Ambassador closed by remarking that by coming together for the common good, the development of peace, harmony and progress through cooperation can thrive.

 

2017 Commonwealth Day Celebrated in Dublin, Ireland

Commonwealth Day was celebrated around the world on 13 March 2017. Ireland has a rich and lasting relationship with the Commonwealth of Nations, with the majority of Irish aboard living in nations that are members of the Commonwealth. In collaboration with RCS Ireland, the Pakistani Embassy in Dublin hosted a special event to mark the occasion. The large delegation included many Ambassadors and representatives from Embassies in Ireland, which represent nations within the Commonwealth. Several Irish parliamentarians, Irish diplomats, academics, and supporters also attended. Excellent speeches were delivered by the Pakistani Ambassador, Irish Senator Neale Richmond, and the British Deputy Head of Mission in Ireland. Lord Rana, as Patron of RCS Ireland also offered his support. Currently travelling in India to promote education and peace, Lord Rana was unable to attend the event in person. However, he offered the following remarks in an official written statement:

Hon’ble Chairman, Hon’ble Diplomats, officials of the Republic of Ireland, members of the RCS, Ladies & Gentlemen.

I would like to express my heartiest best wishes to you all attending the Commonwealth Day celebrations in Dublin, being hosted by the Ambassador of Pakistan, in collaboration with RCS Ireland. I wish I could have been with you all today, but regrettably I am unable to attend due to commitments in India.

Celebrating Commonwealth day on 13 March has another interesting dimension in India. Today is the “Holi Festival Day”, a festival of colours, where people celebrate the beginning of spring weather by playing with colours with each other’s family, friends and strangers. It’s celebrating the colourful world we live in. It is celebrating diversity, multicultural and multi religious world that we are part of, and which is best represented by the Commonwealth.

I am a great believer in the Commonwealth, which is a unique, multicultural, multi-institutional organisation spanning six continents of the world, bringing together nearly one-third of the world’s population and promoting multi-identity. An organisation of 52 nations, it contains 31 Republics, three of which are also members of the European Union. I have been sponsoring various talks, dinners and meetings for nearly 20 years on the subject of the “Republic of Ireland and the Commonwealth”. I remain genuinely convinced that  the Commonwealth would be of great benefit to Ireland; and that the Commonwealth would be strengthened with Ireland’s input.  Dublin’s Lord Mayor and City Council has already extended its support to the establishment of the Commonwealth Society in Ireland, during the official launch at the Mansion House three years ago.

Approximately 60% of the Commonwealth population are under the age of 30, and the majority of them live in developing countries. The best way to counter terrorism and civil unrest is through dialogue and education. The role of education in promoting peace, democracy and respect for each other is essential in shaping these young minds as they are the future of our world. As these countries grow their economies, the Commonwealth will become a very powerful economic organisation.

As we mark Commonwealth Day in Dublin, we might note the 2017 Commonwealth theme, which is “A Peace Building Commonwealth.” My charitable trust is in the process of establishing an Institute for Conflict Resolution Practice in Punjab (India) where we have founded and funded an Education Campus, to bring higher education within the reach of students from the poor families in rural Punjab <www.cordia.edu.in>. This institute will have presence not only in India, but in Northern Ireland as well. The intention is to put into practice the recommendations of the 2007 Commonwealth report “Civil Paths to Peace, Respect and Understanding.” Ireland retains enduring links with the Commonwealth of Nations and we look forward to building on these rich and mutually beneficial bonds.

 

Have a wonderful day, and my regrets for not able to be with you in person.

I wish you all a great Commonwealth Day.

Lord Rana MBE (Baron of Malone)

RCS Ireland & Commonwealth Day 2016

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The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Ireland Branch had the pleasure of marking this year’s Commonwealth Day at the Commonwealth Service, held at Westminster Abbey in London on 14 March. Representatives from RCS Ireland were honoured to participate in the event, which is the largest multi-faith celebration in Britain and Ireland.

This annual service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, and musical performances. Each year the Service is based around an annual Commonwealth Theme. For 2016, the theme was ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, inviting citizens to consider what it means to live in a diverse yet equitable, fair and tolerant international community.

This year’s Commonwealth Day service was attended by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma; as well as the Head of the Commonwealth, who is the figure head and symbol of the free association of the 53 nations that make up the Commonwealth of Nations, 32 of which are Republics. Other delegates include High Commissioners and dignitaries from around the Commonwealth, as well as senior politicians and 1,000 school children.

The RCS organises the Service on behalf of a group of Commonwealth organisations, known as the Council of Commonwealth Societies. Commonwealth Day has been celebrated across the Commonwealth, every year since the 1970s. The event celebrates the unity, diversity and links of the modern Commonwealth and fosters greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly among young people.

As a former member of the Commonwealth, Ireland retains strong links across this association of independent nations. RCS Ireland works to promote awareness of the enduring bonds between Ireland and the Commonwealth, including trade, culture, sports, arts and history. RCS Ireland is also pleased to note that the Commonwealth Youth Games will be held on the island of Ireland in 2021.

RCS Ireland represented at Westminster Abbey for International Commonwealth Day

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Jerry Walsh & Patricia Campbell representing RCS Ireland at Westminster Abbey for International Commonwealth Day following an inspirational service which celebrated the Commonwealth Principles.

Christmas message from RCS Ireland

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Dear Colleagues and Friends;

RCS Ireland wish all our friends and supporters a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

We would also like to take this opportunity to share with you the progress of our Branch over the past year. 2015 saw our successful launch at the Mansion House in Dublin, so generously hosted and addressed by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and his team at Dublin City Council. An array of highly distinguished delegates and speakers were in attendance and we were also honoured to be joined by our colleagues and friends from the RCS in London, which included Lord Howell and his delegation. In addition, the event received significant public interest, due to coverage in the media.

The Executive Officer of RCS Ireland had the pleasure of meeting Prince Charles, during his visit to Ireland this year. It was a delight to receive his words of encouragement for the continued success of RCS Ireland. His remarks reflected the transformative work we hope to promote, by building bridges and forstering truly respectful and mutually beneficial relationships between Ireland and the great community of nations that is the Commonwealth.

Furthermore, this year saw the appointment of our Patron, The Rt Hon The Lord Rana, Baron of Malone. We are truly honoured to welcome Lord Rana to his new position. He has been a strong supporter of relationships between Ireland, India, and the wider Commonwealth for many years. We look forward to his involvement with RCS Ireland in the months and years ahead.

It was a pleasure to launch our website (rcsireland.org) in 2015, where you will find links to our active Twitter and Facebook accounts. We have also been delighted by the many expressions of good will and active support from national and international civic, political, business, artistic and academic organisations and individuals.

As 2015 comes to a close, we have been busy working on a range of projects to acheive our aims, with progress on a number of fronts. With your continued support we plan to build on what we have achieved thus far. We now look forward to the year ahead with excitement, as we continue to promote the bonds between Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Please feel free to stay in touch with us in the year ahead and we look forward to keeping you updated as to our progress in 2016. For now, in true Commonwealth Spirit, and with every good wish, we sign off in fellowship.

Patricia & the Team in RCS Ireland