Aims

  1. Promote a more inclusive definition of Irish identity
  2. Promote Irish membership of the Commonwealth
  3. Review the Irish Constitution
  4. Remove compulsion in Irish language matters

Further information about the Aims

The Reform Group is a non-denominational, non-party body based in the Republic of Ireland, advocating the development of Ireland for a new generation. It fosters a post-nationalist, pluralist Ireland. Reform is dedicated to exploring Irish identity in the widest and most inclusive ways possible and proposing necessary reforms – hence its name.

Reform seeks to explore and rethink Ireland’s relationship with the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, in the light of the deepening and growing awareness of the social, cultural, and political bonds between the nations and peoples of these islands. Reform considers the intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary institutions, such as the British-Irish Council, as genuine means of helping heal ancient divisions.

The Constitution

Reform wishes to review the Constitution of Ireland with particular reference to the preamble and lack of inclusiveness. Reform explores what being Irish means in the widest sense. How should Irish identity be expressed fully in the Constitution? We think the 1937 Constitution needs replacement to reflect the realities of modern Ireland. A true republic ought to be based on the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity with the dignity and human rights of the individual upheld as core values.

Commonwealth membership

Reform seeks to promote Irish membership of the Commonwealth. Some 17 million Irish people and descendants of Irish people live in Commonwealth countries throughout the world. Many citizens of Commonwealth countries live in Ireland. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom – like the other communities and nations of these Islands – is in the Commonwealth. We lobby for Ireland to return to a radically changed Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Ireland left in 1949 removed the word ‘British’ from its title shortly after Ireland’s departure and thus ended the “imperial echoes” of the former “British Commonwealth”. South Africa, with a complex and troubled colonial past, returned to the Commonwealth for example. Irish Commonwealth membership would serve as clear evidence of Ireland’s deep desire for profound reconciliation of conflicting loyalties and aspirations. Indeed, the Commonwealth is well placed to facilitate both reconciliation and conflict resolution.

There are 32 republics in the Commonwealth. Commonwealth membership continues to expand encompassing more and more countries with no previous connection to the United Kingdom, the Dominions, or to the former “British” Commonwealth. Membership would improve Ireland’s business and networking opportunities and would give new opportunities to our athletes at the Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth offers yet further possibilities to deepen and expand Ireland’s already renowned efforts in international aid to developing peoples around the world. Irish membership of the Commonwealth would enable Ireland to help champion the human rights and material development needs of developing countries and communities worldwide both at the European Union institutions and at those of the United Nations. Ireland appears to be very well thought of in Commonwealth circles, and Irish membership would be welcomed warmly by the Commonwealth.

Irish Language

Reform questions compulsion in Irish Gaelic language matters in our schools and in wider society. Reform suggests that compulsion, since independence, has failed to revive the language as a native tongue spoken widely throughout Ireland by the majority of the population either at home or in public life. It has become a bookish doctrinaire language, separated from the life of the people, and costs more than €1.2 billion a year to promote. A more rational and realistic approach to the language is required, and if it is failing in the Gaeltacht – a fact which is accepted now – this should be admitted and appropriate conclusions drawn. We believe less compulsion may lead to a deeper appreciation of Irish Gaelic language and literature and perhaps to wider use of the language. We believe that Irish and English should be equal official languages to reflect the reality of modern Ireland.

 

Reform offers a unique context in which to debate a range of relevant issues. This includes lectures and seminars with eminent guest speakers and senior Reform members from time to time, and a website that allows members to debate issues online, and which informs members of events, publications and public appearances by Reform members, videos or transcripts of lectures delivered at Reform meetings, attendance by Reform at conferences and gatherings, and relevant material from the press.

Reform membership is open to anyone interested in seeing the above aims implemented. Currently, Reform has members from across the island of Ireland, Great Britain, Europe and North America.

Aims of Reform (letter by Robin Bury)