Canada-Ireland relations

Canada-Ireland relations

Canada-Ireland relations are those between Canada and Ireland. The importance of these relations centres on the history of Irish migration to Canada. Almost 3.9 million Canadians, or 13% of the population, claim some Irish ancestry.

Diplomatic history

Before 1922 Ireland was legally considered part of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and therefore had no international relations separate from British ones. From 1922 to 1937 the Irish Free State was a Dominion, like Canada, under the British crown but self-governing. Canada sent her first High Commissioner to Ireland, John Hall Kelly, in 1929. This at a time when Britain did not allow Canada to have embassies in most states and Britain's representative in Ireland was not allowed to use the title of ambassador.

In 1937 Ireland changed its constitution to give itself more complete independence from the United Kingdom, however there was still some ambiguity over the role of the Crown in Irish law.

In 1948 the Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, John A. Costello, was visiting Canada when he announced that Ireland would declare itself a republic. The reason why he chose to make the announcement in Canada is a subject of debate. It may have been that Costello was offended by the behaviour of the Governor General of Canada, Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, who was of Northern Irish descent and who allegedly placed symbols of Northern Ireland, notably a replica of the famous Roaring Meg cannon used in the Siege of Derry, before an affronted Costello at a state dinner. What is certain is that the prior arrangement whereby toasts to the king (symbolising Canada) and the president (representing Ireland) were to be proposed, was broken. Only a toast to the king was proposed, to the fury of the Irish delegation. Shortly afterwards Costello announced the plan to declare the republic. Other explanations for the announcement being made at this time have been offered, including the idea that the change was already planned and an Irish newspaper was about to "break" the story. Whatever the reason the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 soon passed with support from all parties.

In recent times Canada has been an active supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process as symbolised by former Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff John de Chastelain heading of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning.


Roughly 14% of Canadian citizens claim Irish decent which has helped foster a strong relationship based on close cultural affinity, support and cooperation within shared organizations.


Ireland is the 5th largest recipient of Canadian direct investments, with direct investment stocks reaching C$7.4 billion in 2001.

See also

* Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa
* Embassy of Canada in Dublin
* List of Irish ambassadors to Canada
* List of Canadian ambassadors to the Republic of Ireland

External links

* [ Agriculture and Agrifood Canada's report on Ireland]
* [ Foreign Affairs Canada report on Canada-Ireland relations]
* [ Dáil Éireann - Volume 456 - 10 October, 1995. Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Official Visit to Canada.]

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