Orange leader praises Irish reaction to the Queen's visit
Published 10/07/2011 | 05:00
Up to 6,000 Orangemen on their only annual march south of the Border yesterday heard their leader pay tribute to "the tremendous and dignified welcome" given by the people of the Republic to Queen Elizabeth.
Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Orange Lodge in Ireland, told the parade in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, he was recently spending quite a bit of his time in the Republic -- and he was "thoroughly enjoying it".
Union Jacks fluttered and more than 30 bands were in the two-kilometre parade of 50 lodges from southern border counties, as well as from across Northern Ireland.
As surfers crested the waves on the nearby beach, Mr Stevenson told his members that in May he and other senior Orangemen attended the official visit of the Queen in Dublin.
He said: "The visit was a triumph for everyone involved and in particular the people who live here in the Irish Republic and regard themselves as coming from the British culture.
"Thanks to the tremendous welcome given to her Majesty the Queen, British people can hold their heads high in this community and be proud of their beliefs and their culture."
He noted that yesterday's Orange festival in Rossnowlagh enabled them to celebrate their "British culture and identity" in the Republic.
"We are a threat to no one. In fact, the people here want to play their part in the civic society of this country. The Rossnowlagh Twelfth has become a key event on the calendar of public events on the island of Ireland. Orangeism has a part to play in everyday life of the Irish Republic."
Orangemen have paraded in Co Donegal since the early 1900s and since 1978 they have held an annual march in Rossnowlagh every Saturday before July 12.