Where next in British-Irish Relations?

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE REFORM GROUP, DUBLIN.                              

8TH APRIL 2014

 

Blarney

The Commonwealth of Nations has radically changed since Ireland left some sixty-five years ago. It is a global organisation with fifty-two countries, thirty-two of which are Republics and where twenty-one million people of Irish descent live. It is led by an elected Secretariat, the British monarch having a purely titular role. It promotes human rights, democracy, gender equality and through the Commonwealth games, a wide range of sporting activities.

At the recent British Irish Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Dublin, Ireland was encouraged to re-enter the Commonwealth of Nations. It would provide Ireland with an additional platform for trade and economic growth, allow Irish athletes to compete further on the world stage via the Commonwealth Games, promote Ireland in countries that have hitherto had limited links with the country over the past 65 years, and strengthen our connections to those countries who are strongly tied to the culture of Britain and Ireland.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s response was positive. He said:

The question of the Commonwealth obviously is one not for an immediate decision but I do think we can build on the trade links that are there.

Kenny added that Ireland does not have the resources to have diplomatic representation in many countries where the Commonwealth exists around the world. He emphasised that the recent trade mission to Singapore, which three ministers from the island of Ireland and Britain led, opened new trade for Ireland. He emphasised that the “Commonwealth has leverage to open new markets”.

We keep being told that relationships between Ireland and the UK have never been better and that reconciliation is top of the agenda. As the President and the Queen meet this week in London, is it now time to “finish the job” in British-Irish relations and bring an independent Republic of Ireland back into the Commonwealth?

END

 

 

UK/Ireland: Agreement establishing a single maritime boundary

Gov.UKPresented to Parliament June 2013

Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland establishing a Single Maritime Boundary between the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Two Countries and parts of their Continental Shelves

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Image: UK Government

Nelson Mandela and the Commonwealth

NelsonMandela-atRCSPosted by Verity Sharp – Royal Commonwealth Society
6th December 2013

It is with sadness that the Royal Commonwealth Society joins South Africa and the international community in mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela. The Commonwealth has lost an extraordinary and inspirational champion of the values that are its strength. He will be remembered for his innate dignity, his compassion and his unbounded capacity to draw a quality of forgiveness out of hatred.

As we reflect on Mandela’s passing, many Commonwealth commentators will remember the association’s opposition of the apartheid movement, and its support for inclusive democratic elections in South Africa as its finest hour.

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Image: Nelson Mandela at the Royal Commonwealth Society

Kenny and Cameron make ‘poignant’ joint visit to WWI sites

Dave-Enda-WWISee letter in Irish Times correcting the error RTE made in their site. Willie redmond did not request to be buried separately from his Irish fallen colleagues because he respected the 1916 Rising but for other reasons.

Staff

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described his visit, alongside the British Prime Minister David Cameron, to a series of Irish and British World War I memorials in Flanders as “poignant and powerful”.

During a carefully balanced schedule, the two prime ministers spent three hours visiting the most solemn and symbolically important World War I sites, with both men acknowledging the sacrifice of the war dead from the other’s country.

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> Read letter in Irish Times

Picture: RTE News

Robin Bury – Distortion of historical reality

2517376937Letters to the Editor

In the excellent TV3 documentary Sinn Fein: Who are they? (Monday, December 2), Professor Conor Gearty suggested ‘the residual feeling on the part of people’ following the bloody campaign in Northern Ireland is simply ‘you did not have to kill all those people’.

Irish politicians in Dublin have been quick to condemn the collusion of the Dundalk policeman in the brutal murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have apologised to the families of the two policemen. Sinn Fein’s response was to tell us the IRA had ‘a duty’ to kill the RUC men.

Gerry Adams thinks they had it coming, breaking into French to say the men had a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude towards their own security. A ‘contemptible’ attitude, as the editor of the Irish Times put it.

At the heart of southern politicians’ protests, and across all parties in the Dail, I suggest is a serious distortion of historical reality. This expresses itself in self-righteous hypocritical indignation.

Denis Bradley got this message across unambiguously in the TV3 programme:

Let’s not do this southern naivety bit that our violence was OK and we will make heroes out of our violence but these evil black people in the north, their violence is not OK…1916 was good but activity up here was bad. Not true. It is as complicated up here in our age as it was in Dublin in that age.

Such a distortion of historical reality was shown by Minister of Education, Ruairi Quinn, in the same programme.

When asked by Ursula Halligan whether there was ‘any difference between the violence of the old IRA of Michael Collins and the Provisional IRA?’, Quinn said he believes the difference is ‘complete and fundamental’. Why? Because the old IRA ‘got a mandate from the 1918 general election’. But professional historians are agreed no mandate for a campaign of violence was given in the 1918 election.

The IRA started this guerrilla war with the murder of two RIC Catholic constables in 1919 at Soloheadbeg.

The historian Thomas Bartlett tells us ‘The ambush was not in any sense authorised by the Dail in Dublin’ (Ireland A History, page 401).

After these murders, from 1919 to 1921, 513 policemen were killed by the IRA, some 70 per cent being Irish Catholics.

I recently met a relative who told me he was clear that the teaching of history in the south encourages anglophobia.

I suggested this approach had changed recently but he said his son is learning the ‘same old stuff’ such as Ireland was a colony, whereas it was part of the Union with Scotland, Wales and England with over 80 Irish MPs in Westminster. Nor are students told Ireland played a major role in building the British Empire.

I would draw this to the attention of Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education, especially with the commemoration of 1916 looming.

He might then consider the words of Professor Gearty but in a 1916 context: ‘You didn’t have to kill all those people’ including 240 civilians and 23 children.

Robin Bury

Chairman Reform Group, Ireland

Published on the 09 December 2013 11:29

Documentary on One: the Little Cross of Bronze

Victoria-CrossEvery county in Ireland, except one, has at least one winner of the Victoria Cross. But this important part of Irish history has not been acknowledged for decades – up until now.

Listen to the RTE radio documentary by Elizabeth Rice.

 

 

Eamon Gilmore: There is nothing normal about British-Irish relations

gilmoreThe Journal – 7 Sep 2013

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore believes there is nothing normal or conventional about British-Irish relations and in a speech tonight will emphasise that a UK exit from the European Union would be bad for the two countries’ relations.

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Picture: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Irish and British agree economic master plan for closer integration

Cameron-UKgovColm Kelpie, Irish Independent – 18 July 2013

The Irish and British governments are poised to unveil an economic master plan designed to deepen integration between the two countries.

A study, commissioned by both governments, outlines a range of proposals in which Dublin and London would collaborate, including joint Irish and UK trade missions, boosting electrical interconnection and a common tourist visa for both countries.

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> Anglo-Irish Co-operation Strengthens

Picture: Irish Independent

Anglo-Irish Co-operation Strengthens

David_Cameron_gov-ukUK Government Press Release, 18 July 2013

The Prime Minister David Cameron and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed the publication of the Joint (British-Irish) Economic Study Report ‘Evaluating the Value of the Economic Relationship Between the United Kingdom and Ireland’.

In March 2012, the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach agreed a Joint Statement setting out a vision of closer bilateral cooperation between Britain and Ireland over the next ten years. One of the key elements provided for in that Statement was the preparation of a joint evaluation of the depth of economic relations between Britain and Ireland and of the opportunities for closer collaboration in support of growth to the mutual benefit of both islands.

> Read more

Picture: GOV.UK

May 2013: British and Irish troops serving together overseas.

May 2013: British and Irish troops serving together overseas.
00058152-150
Members of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) and the Irish Defence Forces (IDF) have embarked on a joint military deployment to Africa. According to RTE, the Irish Minister for Defence sees this as progress towards the enhancement of relationships between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
RTE announcement of the intended joint operational deployment, February 2013: http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/0213/367637-irish-and-uk-troops-to-train-mali-military-units/
British Forces Broadcasting Service video of RIR and IDF on joint pre-deployment training, March 2013: http://bfbs.com/news/northern-ireland/royal-irish-regiment-set-mali-duties-63088.html