A politician hoping to become Ireland's next president has called for the Republic to join the Commonwealth
Senator David Norris , who plans to run in the country's presidential race, said membership would reap enormous benefits.
Speaking at the launch of the book Ireland and the Commonwealth: Towards Membership, at the Royal Irish Academy, he said that although joining the Commonwealth is unlikely to be top of the Irish political agenda, "should it be demonstrated that this is what the Irish people wish I believe that it could be accomplished with a minimum of fuss".
The majority of members are of the Commonwealth, he said, were now republics, with the Queen's position largely titular.
"New successful applicants such as Rwanda have recently joined the Commonwealth even though they were never a British colony. It would produce very useful cultural, financial and political contacts for this country and among other things would enable Irish athletes to compete in the Commonwealth Games, something which I am sure they would welcome."
The book, produced by the Reform Group, is a collection of articles, debates and speeches, generally supportive of Ireland’s membership of the Commonwealth.
The Reform Group believes that the Republic of Ireland should, as a sovereign state, cultivate its "already close relationship with the peoples of the Commonwealth by becoming members of the association".
It argues that this would not only be strategically beneficial but would be an important symbol of a new confident state "at ease with its own identity and free from the animosities of the past".
Other contributors to the book also voiced their support for the move.
Professor Robert Martin, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, said: "There is a natural bond between Ireland and the Asian, African and Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth. It should be strengthened and institutionalised. Commonwealth membership would be the best means of achieving these ends."
Author and journalist Mary Kenny said: "It would enlarge Ireland’s influence to join the Commonwealth – and enhance the sense of inclusivity in the Irish nation."