A member of the House of Lords has said the Republic of Ireland should consider rejoining the Commonwealth.
Lord Diljit Rana said Ireland needs to have a “rational and serious debate” that must not be “governed by historical distortion, but rather recognize the truth of today and recognize that the Republic of Ireland has much to offer and lots to receive.”
The Indian-born entrepreneur made his remarks while speaking at the launch of the first branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) in the Republic, the Irish Times reports.
“I have been associated with a group of people over the last number of years who firmly believe that the Republic of Ireland joining the Commonwealth would have considerable benefits, further improve relations with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and be warmly welcomed by all Commonwealth countries, including . . . in particular [those] in the less developed world,” said the property developer, who has lived in Belfast since 1966.
Ireland left the British Commonwealth in 1949 under the terms of the Republic of Ireland Act.
Lord Rana said there would be no disadvantage to the Republic joining the Commonwealth and that the economics benefits of being a member can be seen in Northern Ireland, where India is now the second biggest provider of foreign direct investment, the Irish Times reports.
Former Ireland rugby international Trevor Ringland said Ireland should not get “uptight” while thinking about rejoining the Commonwealth.
“It is looking at the benefits of something that you guys in the past helped to shape.”
“[The Republic is] very much part of that family. You may not want to join the Commonwealth but right now there are massive benefits from recognizing the relationship that you have,” he said.
Ringland added that athletes from the Republic could compete in the Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland.
The RCS “is a non-governmental organization that aims to foster business and cultural links between the countries in the former British Empire.”
The organization has 78 branches across the globe in the 53 countries that make up the Commonwealth.
Former British cabins minister Lord Howell, who is president of the RCS, was also in attendance at the launch at the Mansion House. He said that around 21 million people of Irish origin live within the Commonwealth.