McAleese calls for 'culture of acceptance'
The President, Mary McAleese, said a new culture of acceptance and inclusion must be built in Ireland following the success of the Belfast agreement.
Mrs McAleese was speaking during a visit to Brakey Orange Hall in Bailieborough, Co Cavan today as part of a series of engagements in the county. The hall was destroyed by arsonists before being rebuilt two years ago.
"We have taken the first important steps towards ending the bitter culture of either-or, of them versus us. Now we must build a new culture of 'both', each accepting that there are different perspectives and practices, each patient with the other as we get to know each other better in a growing spirit of understanding and outreach," she said.
"It is possible to be both Irish and British, possible to be both Orange and Irish. We face into a landscape of new possibilities and understandings. The momentum of these times is, of course, difficult for some and so they lash out in intemperate acts of vandalism that have been visited on some Orange Halls, including Brakey."
She condemned such acts of vandalism, describing them as "wasteful" and "a throw-back to another time".
During her visit, Mrs McAleese officially opened the Bailieborough Business Centre and visited the Bailieborough Arts and Cultural Centre, before being a guest of honour at a civic reception hosted by Cavan County Council.
After lunch she visited St Bricin's College in Belturbet and officially opened housing units for the elderly on behalf of Loch Gowna Housing and Community Development Associations.