Senior Orange official declines to comment on claims that President Higgins “snubbed” Rossknowlagh invite

 

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Orange Order members were urged today to respect the right of the Republic to celebrate 1916 next year.

The call came at the annual Orange Order parade which was not attended by President Michael D.Higgins.

The President opened a concert area at an arts centre in Naul in north Dublin in response to an invitation issued in Spring in response to an invitation issued in the spring.

He had been invited to to attend the only Orange march held in the Republic last year year, but his office sent a note to the Orange Order turning down the invitation just three weeks ago.

Harold Henning, Orange Order Deputy Grand Master in Ireland, said he couldn’t comment on the suggestion that President snubbed the parade.

Mr Henning, guest speaker at the rally, added: “I don’t know what the President’s diary was, but the invitation is still there for him to attend a future event.”

He said former President Mr McAleese and her husband Martin were “very welcome” guests at the recent opening of the new Orange Order museum in Belfast.

Mr. Henning, in his rally speech, noted the Republic will be celebrating 1916 next year.

He said it was “of minimal relevance” to Orange members but they respected the right of others in Ireland to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. He added: “Likewise, we would expect others to acknowledge the importance of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme next year to the Unionist community on this island.”

More than 7,000 Orange members and associates attended the parade, among marchers on parade were Orangemen from both Convoy and Newtowncunningham in Co. Donegal. Their two Orange halls were destroyed in the past year.