President invited to take part in Donegal Orange parade

Move prompted by the State visit by Queen Elizabeth to Republic

Marchers take part in the annual Rossnowlagh Orange parade in Co Donegal on Saturday. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye.

Marchers take part in the annual Rossnowlagh Orange parade in Co Donegal on Saturday. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye.

Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 09:11

The Orange Order has publicly invited President Michael D Higgins to take part in the organisation’s only annual parade in the Republic.

Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson issued the invitation at Saturday’s march in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal. An Orange Order spokesman said a formal invitation will be sent to Áras an Uachtaráin.

The President is awaiting a formal invitation before he reveals his response. A spokesperson for the President said yesterday: “There is a formal process for invitations to the Áras. When invitations are received they are dealt with.”

In the first invitation from the organisation to an Irish President, Mr Stevenson said the order was prompted by the “momentous State visit” by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic in 2011.

He recalled that during her trip she “visited sites of significance to Irish nationalism” including the Garden of Remembrance and Croke Park in Dublin. He told nearly 7,000 Orange Order followers at a rally in the sand dunes of Rossnowlagh: “Such gestures of reconciliation were hugely symbolic and carried out by Her Majesty with great decorum and respect.”

Mr Stevenson said it was against that background he was inviting Mr Higgins to join them next year and witness the spectacle of the only Twelfth demonstration in the Republic.