Fine Gael senator calls for Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth

Frank Feighan tells Pat Kenny that he wants to "reopen the debate" in the event of a Brexit

Fine Gael senator calls for Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth

Fine Gael Frank Feighan | Photocall file photo

Ireland officially left the British Commonwealth in 1949 upon declaring itself a republic but, some 67 years later, a member of the Seanad wants us to rejoin.

With an answer to the Brexit question only a day away, Roscommon senator Frank Feighan spoke to Pat Kenny this afternoon about his wish to "reopen the debate" on our Commonwealth status.

Feighan said there were "certain misconceptions about the Commonwealth" and argued that "we need to start looking outside the EU... We have to question ourselves [as to] where our future lies".

Suggesting that we "have to update ourselves effectively", Feighan praised the "many noble ideals" of the Commonwealth and suggested rejoining it could fast-track a united Ireland.

"I would like to unite the people of Ireland," he said. "I genuinely feel that we have a lot in common and history shouldn't divide us; it should unite us."

Feighan hoped the move would foster inter-country relations and improve our access to 53 nations and a total population of 2.2 billion.

When it was put to him that his suggestion was unlikely to gain much political traction in the Oireachtas, Feighan pointed to Elizabeth II's Irish visit in 2011 and Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness attending a Windsor Castle event as examples of how far things have moved on.

He concluded:

"The more contact and interaction you have... the better it could be for the Republic of Ireland."

Speaking in the Seanad yesterday, Feighan had argued:

"Would rejoining not help further develop a pluralist Ireland where all our different identities are always mutually recognised and respected?

"Would it also not just strengthen existing trade, business, cultural and political relationships but nurture new ones across the world?"