Order: Tricolour 'snub' nothing to get hung up about
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 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 explained why the tricolour had been left out.
"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 are quite content that the Union flag, with its Cross of St Patrick, represents them."
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.
"I wouldn't get hung up on the idea of a particular flag being or not being on display," he said.
Earlier, former Irish President Mary McAleese hailed the museum for promoting understanding between differing traditions.
Mrs McAleese and her husband Martin were among invited guests at the official opening of the £3.8m interpretative centre in Belfast.
The museum retells the story of the Glorious Revolution and the resultant war between William of Orange and James II, which culminated with the Dutch king defeating the Jacobean forces at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
It goes on to explain the formation of the Orange Order a century later and how the institution has grown since.
It was also revealed the Order was the mystery buyer that purchased a Jacobite musket used in the Battle of the Boyne for £20,000 at auction last week.
The musket previously made headlines in 2007 when the late First Minister, Ian Paisley, presented it to the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in a symbolic moment for the peace process at the opening of the Boyne Visitors' Centre in Co Meath.
Mrs McAleese said the centre would be a place where those of a nationalist perspective could learn more about the Orange tradition.
"The culture of the Orange is not my culture but it is the culture of my neighbours and we who are the children of the Jacobites and the Williamites, we share this space, we share this island," she said.
Grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson (left) said it would enhance the institution's outreach with the wider community in Northern Ireland and beyond.
"The opening of the Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House marks a significant and momentous moment for the Orange Institution," he said.