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Orange Order's go-ahead to commemorate Ulster Covenant at Stormont

By Noel McAdam

Stormont is to stage a major commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Ulster Covenant involving the Orange Order.

Hundreds of Orangemen will participate in a major parade through the Stormont Estate — marching past the famous statue of Sir Edward Carson.

Assembly sources said that it is believed to be the first time Stormont has hosted a formal Orange event in living memory.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has given the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland the go-ahead for the commemorative event.

Mr Wilson’s Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) said that permission had been granted “subject to detailed arrangements and relevant paperwork in relation to the event being agreed with the department's estate management unit and other relevant authorities”.

A platform for speeches is to be erected close to the roundabout containing Sir Edward’s monument, directly in front of Parliament Buildings.

Suspended Ulster Unionist David McNarry appealed to people opposed to the event not to attempt to spark trouble or disrupt proceedings.

The Strangford MLA, a former assistant grand master in the Grand Orange Lodge, told BBC NI: “I think we've grown up as democrats and as politicians.

“I think we have reached a stage in our political lives where we have moved on to be able to respect each other’s traditions and commemorations.”

The Covenant was the symbolic centre-piece of the unionist campaign against British Government proposals to introduce Home Rule in Ireland.

It was signed by a total of 237,368 men who queued at Belfast City Hall, while 234,046 women signed a parallel declaration stating their opposition.

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