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Orangemen may boycott ceremony

SINÉAD GRENNAN THE Orange Order may not attend the civic unveiling of its commemorative plaque in Dawson Street following the fourth...



> Orangemen may boycott ceremony



SINÉAD GRENNAN

THE Orange Order may not attend the civic unveiling of its commemorative plaque in Dawson Street following the fourth postponement of its Dublin march.

The march, which was due to take place on May 28, was postponed because of lack of financial and political support from the Irish authorities. Ian Cox, manager of the Dublin-Wicklow Lodge, said the Order felt betrayed.

The plaque, which commemorates the first meeting of the Grand Lodge of Ireland on April 9, 1798 will be set into the pavement on Dawson Street. It was commissioned by Dublin Corporation.

The Orange Order had planned a short parade along Dawson Street on the same day as the unveiling. The event was to be attended by about 400 Orangemen from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK.

However, the Dublin-Wicklow Lodge ran into trouble when Dublin Corporation gave it a £7,000 bill for the use of the Mansion House and road closure. The order applied to the Department of Foreign Affairs for funding from the Peace and Reconciliation Fund. This was refused. Mr Cox said the Order was very disappointed as ``Orangemen marching in Dublin with Catholics was about as reconciliatory as it gets''.

``The people of Dublin responded very positively to our proposals but the silence from every political party was deafening. The Department of Foreign Affairs didn't even give us the courtesy of a letter of refusal, instead telling us over the phone and giving no reason for their decision,'' he said.

``We came to a compromise about four weeks ago with Dublin Corporation under which the Lord Mayor Mary Freehill would have a civic unveiling of the plaque and we'd have a parade and our own unveiling. We weren't happy but we agreed. A week later, we received a letter demanding that we `enter dialogue and lift the siege of the beleaguered Nationalist community on Garvaghy Road'. That's ridiculous and deeply insulting. We are citizens of, and loyal to, a different state.''

The Lodge decided to postpone the march. It is now considering whether or not to attend the civic unveiling. ``We will have to discuss whether we should be seen to lend credibility to a State that has betrayed us,'' said Mr Cox.

He added: ``[This] sends an unfortunate message out about the absence of tolerance in Ireland. We still want to hold the parade but I believe it'll take quite a while before it's possible.''

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