Orange Order goes down to the seaside
Members of the Orange Order on their only march in the Republic heard yesterday of the "significant and historic" visit earlier in the week by leaders of the order to the Seanad in Dublin.
Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, the first senior Orange leader to address a house of parliament in Dublin, was not at the parade of nearly 10,000 Orange members in the seaside township of Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.
But the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, who led the delegation to the Seanad, said he believed that "a lot of good" would come from the visit.
He revealed that, following the Seanad representation, there was a 40-minute meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny when the future funding by the Government of Protestant schools in the Republic was raised.
There is a campaign in Donegal led by a Catholic priest and a Protestant clergyman against plans to axe small Gaeltacht and Protestant schools. Mr Stevenson said the Taoiseach had promised Orange leaders to host a future meeting to discuss planned cuts to school budgets.
Mr Stevenson also recalled that while the Dublin visit was significant and historic, it was only the latest in a long line of meetings that Orange leaders have had in Dublin. He added: "Over the past five or six years, we have built up strong relationships in the corridors of power in Dublin. We intend to use those relationships to work on your behalf.
"The Orange Institution and its members want to play a full role in the civic society of this country."
Union flags fluttered and more than 30 bands were in the 2km parade of 50 lodges from southern border counties as well as from across Northern Ireland. Tented shops selling Orange souvenirs lined the final 200 metres to a prayer gathering at a field beside the sand dunes.
In the distance, surfers crested the waves.
Gardai reported no trouble during the march.