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'Cultural' reason to exclude flag

The Irish tricolour was omitted from a display of flags outside the new Orange Order museum because Orangemen in the Republic feel "culturally British", a senior Orange official has claimed.

The order has faced questions over why the Irish national flag is not among those flying outside the building to signify nations where Orange lodges operate.

The flags of Togo, Ghana, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have been erected beside the Union flag and a Northern Ireland flag.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland's director of services Dr David Hume today explained the institution's rationale in excluding the tricolour.

"I hope it doesn't jar," he said. "We are the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland but the majority of our members are in Northern Ireland. The members we have in the Republic of Ireland are quite content that the Union flag, with its Cross of St Patrick, represents them."

He highlighted that inside the museum the flag of the Irish Republic was incorporated into an audio visual display and that the Irish word for welcome - failte - was among greetings engraved on the museum's glass door.

Mr Hume said the question of whether to raise the tricolour outside had been "discussed and considered" by the Order.

"We take counsel from our members in the Republic of Ireland who have told us that they feel culturally British though they are politically Irish, and that's a very important point," he said.

Mr Hume said one of the motivations behind the interpretative centre was to reach out to those from a nationalist tradition.

"I wouldn't get hung up on the idea of a particular flag being or not being on display," he said.

"I think the real issue here is we are very committed to the outreach to other people and to explaining to other people who we are and what our background is."

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