Reform's new book "Ireland and the Commonwealth - Towards Membership" was launched last week at a well-attended reception in London.
The book can be ordered online by clicking here.
Here are some excerpts from Philip Johnston's Daily Telegraph article covering the launch - the full article can be read on the Daily Telegraph website: Could Ireland really rejoin the Commonwealth?
Easter holds a special place in the history of Ireland. In 1916, the insurrection known as the Easter Rising paved the way for the country's partition and a bloody civil conflict. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement marked the end of the Provisional IRA's war with the British state and the beginnings of a process that has resulted in the two extremes in Ulster politics coming together to share power.
It was also at Easter, in 1949 – some 27 years after the Free State was established as a dominion under the Anglo-Irish Treaty – that the Irish republic was born. At the same time, Ireland left the Commonwealth in a final breach with Britain, though Eamon de Valera, the man most associated with the cause of Irish independence, opposed this démarche. He refused even to attend the celebrations to mark the republic, and later said he would preferred to have retained the link with the Commonwealth.
Unlikely as it may sound, there is a growing campaign for Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth. A pamphlet launched today by The Reform Group argues that such a move would be seen as a significant gesture of reconciliation towards the Unionist community of Northern Ireland. The Reform Group describes itself as a Unionist movement in the tradition of John Redmond, the Irish leader whose efforts to secure home rule within the British Empire were thwarted by the onset of the First World War.
Campaigners believe that were Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth, it would draw a line under the troubled history of Anglo-Irish relations and help develop a pluralist Ireland comfortable with its different identities and turbulent past. There is a strong argument, too, that Ireland's self-interest would also be served by being part of the Commonwealth, which is a world forum with links to many other institutions.....
Sixty years on, there is no obvious barrier to Ireland following suit, and many arguments in favour – not least its common heritage with many members (there is an Irish diaspora of some 40 million living in Commonwealth countries)."