Robin Bury Blog: Secretary General of the Commonwealth implores Ireland to ‘come home’


The media’s main interest in the recent release of the 1982 state papers was in the malevolence of Charles Haughey during the Falklands war. Ronan Fanning wrote a superb article on Haughey’s behavior in the Sunday Independent on 30th December 2012, exposing his headstrong Anglophobic instructions to our UN representative, Ambassador Noel Dorr, who obeyed his master, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. This was overtaken by events as British troops had landed before the UN could debate Haughey’s resolution. But in Fanning’s words, ‘this humiliating outcome for Haughey’s self-indulgent exercise in Brit-bashing cannot disguise the fact that the damage done to Anglo-Irish relations was immense’.

Another story with an Anglophobic tone was missed by the Irish media, with the exception of the Irish Daily Mail which had the headline ‘We need Ireland back  in the Commonwealth’ (December 31, 2012, p.20). No, it was not a peeved Margaret Thatcher who said this to our Ambassador in London, Eamon Kennedy. She was the last person Haughey would at that time take notice of such a request.  It was the then Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Shridath Ramphal, who was in 10 Downing Street in June 1982 after the Trooping of the Colour with Kennedy. He explained that the Commonwealth had changed radically into an international organization of mainly independent republics which ‘owed their independent republican status…to Ireland.’ Well, he exaggerated somewhat as it was Britain which gave its Empire away under duress, Ireland being the first nation to go. Kennedy listened politely but declined the offer on behalf of his boss, Haughey, putting improved relations with the British government ahead of the healing power of re-entering the Commonwealth.

Much later in November 2009, at a round table dinner in Port of Spain, Ramphal returned to this subject, clearly close to his heart. He then told the Commonwealth summit why Ireland should ‘come home’. I will not go into the detail of what he said as you can read his speech on the Reform website.

Read it and then come back and give us one reason why we should not return. Perhaps we should also ask our youth who have found new homes and jobs in Commonwealth countries. Lastly, let’s ask our politicians, not one of whom has given me a reason why we are not in the modern Commonwealth. Could it be that anglophobia still stalks the corridors of Leinster House?