Historic Orange Order visit might help Seanad's cause


HISTORY WILL be made in Leinster House on Tuesday when the grand secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland addresses the Seanad.

Following months of behind-the-scenes work, Drew Nelson will become the first member of the Orange Order to address the Irish parliament.

The Senators are quietly chuffed with their coup, not least because they want all the good publicity they can get in the battle to save the Seanad.

The visit was first suggested by Senator Martin McAleese. After a series of discussions with Mr Nelson and members of the Grand Lodge, Senator McAleese visited its Belfast headquarters with the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Paddy Burke.

Following a lengthy meeting, they reached agreement on the visit and the Seanad subsequently voted unanimously to issue the invite.

After Mr Nelson addresses the House, the Seanad group leaders will respond. Sinn Féin is not entitled to speaking rights due to a lack of numbers, but the party has been granted speaking time for this occasion.

The grand masters from the Orange Order in the Republic are expected to be among the attendance in the visitors’ gallery.

Cathaoirleach Burke will also speak, along with Denis O’Donovan of Fianna Fáil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to meet the delegation when they are in Dublin.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, are next in line to visit, supplying another historic date for the diary.

Members of the Upper House will be hoping that these events might help the campaign to move the Seanad off the endangered list.