We influenced the early Commonwealth, so it’s a pity Ireland isn’t taking part in Games

CWGames2014Mary Kenny – Irish Independent, 28 Jul 2014

Not a lot of people know – as Michael Caine is apt to say – that the Irish Free State played an influential role in developing the character of the Commonwealth, that group of 53 nations which arose out of the former British Empire.

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Image: England’s Steven Way in action in the Men’s Marathon during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Photo: Danny Lawson.

England’s Steven Way in action in the Men’s Marathon during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Photo: Danny Lawson – See more at: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/mary-kenny/we-influenced-the-early-commonwealth-so-its-a-pity-ireland-isnt-taking-part-in-games-30463798.html#sthash.TvvDiOkY.dpuf

Reform Group Seminar 18 September 2014


The Reform Group will hold a seminar to commemorate the signing into law of
 the Home Rule Act, 18 September 1914.

Keynote address by John Bruton, former Taoiseach and former EU ambassador to the United States.
Dermot Meleady, author of John Redmond: The National Leader and Redmond: The Parnellite.
Professor Paul Bew, Queen’s University Belfast, author of Enigma: A new life of Charles Stewart Parnell, and The Politics of Enmity.
Prof. Eunan O’Halpin, Professor of Contemporary Irish History, Trinity College Dublin, author of Defending Ireland: The Irish State and its Enemies since 1922.
Professor Emeritus Ronan Fanning, University College Dublin, author of Fatal Path.
Chairman: Patrick Maume, author of The Long Gestation.
Royal Irish Academy, 
19 Dawson St. Dublin 2
Thursday, 18 September 2014
, 10.00 am – 1.00 pm

Entry: free. There will be a collection to defray expenses.


On 18 September 1914, six weeks into the Great War, King George V signed the Home Rule Act into law. The Act provided for the setting up of an Irish parliament with an accountable executive, empowered to govern all internal Irish affairs under the overall supremacy of the Westminster Imperial parliament.

It was the climax of a parliamentary process that had begun in April 1912 with the introduction of the Third Home Rule Bill. It was also the culmination of a 40-year struggle waged by constitutional Irish nationalists in the Westminster parliament with the democratic backing of the great majority of Irish nationalist electors.

It was thus a victory for the Irish Parliamentary Party and its leader, John Redmond, the heir of Parnell and O’Connell. Redmond was expected on all sides to be the first prime minister of a self-governing Ireland.

Only two obstacles stood in the way of the Act’s immediate operation. First, with political debate suspended and all attention focused on the War, the setting up of the Irish parliament had to be postponed until the end of the conflict. Second, and more seriously, although partition arrangements to exclude the unionist areas of Ulster from the Act had been discussed, no agreement had been reached. Thus, the precise territorial remit of the Irish parliament-to-be was unclear.

The placing of the Home Rule Act on the Statute Book was accepted by Redmond as the fulfilment of the promise of ‘the British democracy’ to Ireland, and paved the way for his call to nationalists to repay the ‘debt of honour’ by enlisting in the British forces fighting on the continent – a call answered by 210,000 nationalist and unionist Irishmen.

Subsequent efforts to implement the Act were overtaken and sidelined by events – the prolongation of the War, the Easter 1916 rebellion – that few had anticipated, events that compounded the difficulties posed by the partition impasse. The Act thus was never implemented in nationalist Ireland.
The speakers at this seminar will explore, from different viewpoints, the meaning of the Home Rule Act for Ireland, then and now, and such thorny questions as whether its signing deserves to be celebrated – or merely commemorated.

Reform Group (c) 2014


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> Embassy marks centenary of 1914 Home Rule Act

> Padraig Pearse rejoiced in violence, says John Bruton

Image: Aidan Crawley

Embassy marks centenary of 1914 Home Rule Act

Emb-1914-Panel-discussion-540x320An event to mark the centenary of the Home Rule Act took place in the Embassy with a distinguished audience of parliamentarians, academics, officials, business, community and cultural representatives, and media. The panel of expert guest speakers from Ireland and Britain included former Taoiseach John Bruton, Lord Paul Bew, Professor Michael Laffan and Professor Richard Toye and was chaired by broadcaster Fergal Keane.

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The event was also broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday 5 July.

Image: DFA

Bank on booming Britain

davidmcwilliamspDavid McWilliams – 16 June 2014

While you may have been watching the opening game of the World Cup on Thursday night, the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney sent sterling surging towards a five-year high with his speech at the Mansion House in London.

This move in Britain could have a significantly positive effect on the prospects of the Irish economy.

In the real world of commerce, we have always depended more on Birmingham than Berlin.

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Image: David McWilliams

Commonwealth plays vital role

Kamalesh SharmaSunday Independent –  27 April 2014

Madam – Dan O’Brien (Sunday Independent, April 13, 2014), gives thoughtful consideration to the value to small states of multilateralism in general and the Commonwealth in particular.

However, there is ample evidence to counter his assertion that the Commonwealth is “not a hugely important organisation for any of the 53 countries in it”.

As he himself acknowledges, smaller, more vulnerable states have more to gain from being in to ‘clubs’ where all members are bound by the same rules.

For that reason, and many others, membership of the Commonwealth is central to those of our 31 members with populations of less than 1.5 million, the internationally agreed definition for a ‘small state’. A quarter of the members of the G20 also belong to the Commonwealth.

This offers opportunities for interface, and direct and crucial global advocacy facilitated by the Commonwealth plays a vital role in ensuring that due consideration is given to the concerns of developing and vulnerable nations when decisions are made that can have very significant impact on their trade, environment, social and economic stability, sustainability and resilience, and addressing serious capacity shortages.

Kamalesh Sharma,
Commonwealth Secretary-General,
Marlborough House, London

Sunday Independent –  27 April 2014

Image: Commonwealth Secretariat

All things being equal we have a club to join

IrishRegimentsFlagsDan O’Brien – 13 April 2014 – Sunday Independent

‘States have no eternal friends, only eternal interests.” So said Lord Palmerston, a leading 19th-Century European statesman, prime minister of Britain and Ireland on two occasions and landlord of a 12,000-acre estate in Sligo. Palmerston’s view is the ultimate realpolitik view on relations between states.

While it goes too far – countries whose peoples share values and many personal connections can and do have important bonds of friendship – it is mostly correct. Interests are always the main determinant in how states behave.

Last week provided further evidence of the normalisation of how the Irish and British states behave towards each other with President Michael D Higgin’s state visit to the UK.

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> Kamalesh Sharma – Commonwealth plays vital role

Image: Independent.ie

The Queen’s speech at the Irish State banquet

banquet05_2876536cPublished on 10 Apr 2014

Her Majesty gives a speech at the State Banquet for the historic Irish State Visit at Windsor Castle. The visit, the first official State Visit by a President of Ireland, is taking place over four days in London and Windsor Castle.


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Image: Sunday World

Commonwealth Day Observance, 10 March 2014

Commonwealth-FlagsCommonwealth Day Observance, 10 Mar 2014

The annual Observance on Monday 10th March at Westminster Abbey, organised by the Society, was a great success. We were privileged to welcome Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex along with High Commissioners and visiting diplomats and 800 young people from 83 schools.

Malala Yousafzai gave the main address and, along with Lord Coe and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson delivered a powerful reminder of the capability of the Commonwealth to be a force for good.

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> Commonwealth Day Observance 2014

Image: theRCS.org

Bruton on trade mission with NI and UK counterparts

RichardBrutonRTE News – Wednesday 12 February 2014

The first trade mission led by ministers from Dublin, Stormont and Westminster is under way in Singapore.

Representatives of 40 companies from the island of Ireland are part of the delegation at the Singapore Airshow, the largest such event in Asia.

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Image: Inpho.ie / Getty Images

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.


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