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Varadkar says Ireland rejoining Commonwealth is 'not something that's on the agenda'

His comments come after the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson said Ireland should join the Commonwealth.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at yesterday's Fine Gael National Conference
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at yesterday's Fine Gael National Conference
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth is “not something that’s on the agenda”, after comments made by the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson yesterday

Addressing an audience at the Fine Gael National Conference yesterday, Donaldson said he would like to see Ireland back in the Commonwealth. 

There was a large applause when he said: “I do hope we can come to a day when the Republic will join with many other (nationals) in the Commonwealth recognising that we have overcome a lot of adversity and it would be good.”

He added that the Commonwealth is a place where “Ireland’s voice should be heard and I would like to see that happen”.

However, this afternoon Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that joining the Commonwealth is “not something we’ve given any consideration to as a government”. 

“It’s not something that’s on the agenda, at the moment anyway”. 

Varadkar explained that he believed Ireland could “re-empower and boost” the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, such as the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference and the British Irish Council.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney was also asked about to possibility yesterday, to which he said it was not on his agenda. 

When asked if it was on the table, he said: “I don’t think so.”

dup 448_90567199 The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson at yesterday's conference Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Coveney explained away the applause from the audience stating that people were merely wanting to show Donaldson “some warmth”, stating that people understand that was a “big deal” for the DUP MP to attend today.

He said some within the Fine Gael party have been making a case for Ireland to join the Commonwealth, name-checking Senator Frank Feign.

“I think there is some support within the party to looking anew at the Commonwealth, but probably not a majority support at this stage. Like many things in Fine Gael, we have an open mind,” he said. 

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Speaking of Brexit during his interview, Varadkar said he should not interfere with the United Kingdom’s internal politics and that “people understand why I can’t do that”. 

He added that “whoever the prime minister is, we will work with that prime minister”. 

Varadkar added that the government had ensured that it has had good links with the UK government, not just at the Taoiseach/Prime Minister level. 

He went on to say that the UK is now “consumed” by Brexit. 

“Even after they leave and let’s assume they leave with a withdrawal agreement in a few weeks time, they will spend two or three years consumed what the future relationship is like,” Varadkar said, adding that it is important that Ireland is not consumed or defined by Brexit.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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