Several countries are lining up to join the Commonwealth of Nations. As we mentioned here on 6 February,2007, these include Algeria and Rwanda, neither of which was part of the British Empire, as well as Yemen, The Sudan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Now the Irish Government is being called on to rejoin the Commonwealth that it left in 1949 when the Irish Parliament adopted a republican constitution, according to a report in IrelandOn-line on 15 May 2007. Attending a British Islands and Mediterranean Region conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at Stormont in Northern Ireland, the Secretary General of the Association, former Tanzanian minister Dr William Shija, said the time had come for Ireland to embrace the diversity offered by the group of 53 nations from across the world. He said: “We look forward indeed to when not only the other part of Ireland but other parts of the world are looking at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as an association which respects diversity and differences and multi-cultural approaches. I look forward to an inclusive process by having more members.”
IrelandOn-Line reported that Eamon de Valera’s grandson, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O Cuiv has backed the proposal as a way of reaching out to the Northern Ireland unionists. The Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley welcomed delgates to the conference. He welcomed the fact that the North Ireland Assembly’s decision to enter the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was taken without opposition from Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin Deputy Speaker Francie Molloy said he was welcoming the delegation in his neutral capacity as a leading officer of the House.