Thursday 15 November 2018

FF TDs still wary of Commonwealth

STEPHEN O'BRIEN and BARRY ROCHE

ANY early move to bring Ireland back into the Commonwealth would face resistance from Fianna Fail backbenchers, according to an Irish Independent straw poll of TDs.

ANY early move to bring Ireland back into the Commonwealth would face resistance from Fianna Fail backbenchers, according to an Irish Independent straw poll of TDs.

The Fianna Fail deputies interviewed yesterday saw little advantage for the country in rejoining the Commonwealth in light of our membership of the EU although none expressed strong opposition.

Of the half dozen Dail deputies we spoke to, only Dublin West Deputy Brian Lenihan saw a context where membership might be acceptable. Munster MEP Brian Crowley was the only party member to fully declare support

They were commenting after remarks by the Taoiseach in favour of discussing the idea, while Éamon de Valera's grandson Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív said he had no difficulty with the idea if it would give comfort to unionists.

Secretary General of the Commonwealth Chief Emeka Anyaoku said he would welcome Ireland's return, and thought the move likely.

North Secretary Mo Mowlam played safe on the issue while visiting Cork yesterday saying: ``It's not my decision it's one for your country and for your people.''

But Louth TD Seamus Kirk cautioned ``we should make haste slowly'' and concentrate instead on all sides making the concessions required under the Good Friday Agreement.

Dublin's Sean Haughey and Cork's Noel O'Flynn saw it in terms of the national pocket.

``I see absolutely no benefit in it unless it's going to improve trade between countries. We already have bilateral trade agreements with member countries.''

And Mr Haughey said: ``I feel it is an outdated forum. Are there any economic benefits in joining the Commonwealth? That would be the only consideration that I think should be taken on board.''

Brian Lenihan said: ``I have no emotional affinity with the Commonwealth, but I do understand that were there a United Ireland, it might be an appropriate framework to reconcile unionist concerns.''

Dublin South East TD Eoin Ryan said: ``I have not heard one unionist say he wants Ireland join the Commonwealth. I have no big hang-up about it but I don't see the value in it.''

Chief Anyaoku told BBC Radio 4: ``Ireland has many friends in the Commonwealth, all of which would want to see Ireland return, as Fiji, South Africa and Pakistan returned.''

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