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Ireland 'Should Rejoin The Commonwealth', Says MP Michael Fabricant

22/04/2014 15:42 BST | Updated 22/04/2014 15:59 BST

The Republic of Ireland should rejoin the Commonwealth "to celebrate peace" in the wake of Martin McGuinness' state dinner with the Queen, an MP has said.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Lichfield Conservative MP Michael Fabricant wrote that the recent state dinner attended by McGuinness and Irish President Michael D. Higgins had "put an end to over 90 years of discord between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland".

Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949 when it became a republic, which were not allowed to be members at the time. Ten days later, the rules of admission to the Commonwealth were changed but Ireland did not rejoin.

Mr Fabricant said that Ireland re-joining the Commonwealth was "not so mad as it might first seem".

martin mcguinness michael higgins

Michael Fabricant said Martin McGuinness meeting the Queen showed 'times have moved on'

He added it would send a message to countries that have "political upheaval and disputes" and would "draw a line under (our) past.. while promoting our future on the best parts of our heritage".

He wrote: "When you witness people like Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander whose comrades were responsible for the death of Lord Louis Mountbatten, attend a State banquet hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle, there aren’t many better signals than that to show that times have indeed moved on.

"The commitment from the Irish and British governments to put aside differences and look towards unity and joint working on equal terms is demonstrable.

"The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said following the Queen’s visit of 2011 that no neighbour is closer, and no two countries have such joint interests in trade and bilateral interests in Europe. British and Irish citizens hold reciprocal rights to residency and employment in both countries."

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He added that around 10% of the British population had a grandparent or parent of Irish decent and Britain’s biggest export destination in the EU is Ireland.

Mr Fabricant, who was recently dismissed as vice-chair of the Conservative Party for tweeting "about time" when Maria Miller resigned over her expenses, added: "Some will ask whether the Commonwealth still has any importance, or whether it is simply a delusion of British influence on the world’s stage. But what would be missed, if that were the case, would be the importance of its influence in the rest of the world.

"Of course it would be for the Irish Government to decide whether it wanted to join. It might feel that it would be a step too far; but as a British parliamentarian with no particular connection to Ireland, I would like to see it.

"British-Irish relations are ones of missed opportunities and sadness. Let’s end that for good, and be the very best of neighbours."