Orange Order 'baffled' as billboard removed after complaints
The Orange Order said it is has been left "baffled and deeply disappointed" after a billboard promoting its new museum was removed in north Belfast.
Mystery surrounds the removal of the poster for the Orange Order's new Museum of Orange Heritage following complaints by residents in the nationalist Carrick Hill area of the city.
The museum at the Order's Cregagh Road headquarters is due to open next week, while another in Loughgall, Co Armagh, will open its doors later this month.
Billboards displaying the message 'We want to share our history so everyone can share the future' were put up across Belfast. Similar ads will appear on Metro buses on routes in Belfast.
An Orange Order spokesman said: "It is extremely concerning that a museum, which is Peace III funded, promoting outreach and providing a greater understanding of our shared history should be the cause of such contention.
"Our new facility in Belfast, and in Co Armagh, are both aimed to create greater awareness of Orangeism and its traditions, as well as promoting shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education. Our extensive advertising campaign demonstrates our commitment to this objective.
"It is unfortunate that there are some in society who would rather display intolerance, and in doing so promote apartheid in areas of our capital city."
Reacting to the poster's removal, North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said: "There is so much intolerance and bigotry in Carrick Hill that they can't tolerate even an Orange poster, never mind a parade."
The Clifton Street poster site is managed by outdoor advertising agency JC Decaux. The firm declined to comment on the poster row when contacted.
In a tweet, Lee Reynolds, DUP policy expert and former DUP leader on Belfast City Council said: "If Ashers were guilty of political discrimination, what about JC Decaux?"
A spokesman for the Orange Order told the Belfast Telegraph that the organisation first learned that the billboard had been removed when they were contacted by a local north Belfast newspaper. He was unable to shed any light on the nature of the complaint by residents.
The Orange Order's advertising agency, Lyle Bailie International, did not respond to requests for further information.
The Carrick Hill Residents' Association did not return calls last night.
The Museums of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House and at Sloan's House, Co Armagh, are part of the Reach Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage), which received £3.6m from the EU's Peace III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
The new interpretative centre in east Belfast will display a wealth of items relating to the history of Orangeism across the world, while the Loughgall facility will focus predominantly on the origins of the Institution.
The Institution's revamped Cregagh Road headquarters is due to open its doors next week and the Co Armagh redevelopment officially opens later this month.