Nobody’s Commonwealth?

  • Krishnan Srinivasan


Paradoxically, Ireland was the oldest of all the colonies of settlement but the last of them to be granted ‘responsible self-government’.1 The Irish nationalists had never wanted Dominion status and looked upon the Crown as a symbol of alien rule. From 1936 to 1949, in the Irish view, Ireland owed no allegiance to the Crown and was not a member of the Commonwealth, though it was ‘in association’ with the Commonwealth as symbolized by the King’s signature on Letters of Appointment for Irish representatives abroad. In 1948 Ireland decided to repeal the External Relations Act that constituted the last remaining link with the British Crown, albeit confining its role to empty diplomatic formalities. With the repeal of this legislation came Ireland’s decision to leave the Commonwealth, whereupon the British government confirmed, in a curiously unique anomaly, that it would not place Ireland in the category of a foreign state or treat its citizens as foreigners.


Foreign Policy Good Governance Round Table British Government British Public 
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  1. 116.
    Lyon, ‘1949–1999: Fifty Years of a Renewing Commonwealth’, editorial, The Round Table, no. 350, April 1999, p. i.Google Scholar
  2. 117.
    Austin, The Round Table, no. 376, September 2004, p. 620.Google Scholar
  3. 122.
    Ancram, ‘After Zimbabwe, has the Commonwealth still got a purpose?’, Chatham House lecture, 5 February 2003.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Krishnan Srinivasan

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