Top Orangeman pays tribute to President McAleese
A senior Orangeman has welcomed the prospect of the Queen visiting Dublin next year, at the Orange Order's only parade to be hosted in the Republic.
More than 12,000 marchers and 30 bands marched along country roads to their annual pre-Twelfth beachside gathering at Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.
And the Rev Stanley Gamble, a Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, told marchers how President Mary McAleese made a special effort during her time in office to make Ireland a ‘warm house' for Protestants.
Mr Gamble also said that although Mrs McAleese had “made mistakes”, she had worked hard for a shared and peaceful future in Ireland.
He said the President's decision to hold a July 12 reception at Aras an Uachtarain was “groundbreaking” and it had become a fixed date on the presidential calendar, paving the way for mutual understanding and respect.
Mr Gamble claimed Mrs McAleese's visit to Brakey Orange Hall in Co Cavan less than two years ago, when it was rebuilt after an arson attack, marked a shift in the republican mindset as it laid a foundation stone for equal citizenship rights to be extended to the Irish in the Republic who also felt British.
Mr Gamble added: “British passports should be available to Irish citizens south of the border, just as Irish passports are available to British citizens north of the border. This would be a real and tangible sign of change and hope.”
Speaking at Saturday’s parade, he added that he looked forward to the Queen visiting the Republic, hopefully before President McAleese left office
“Won't it be great to see the Queen afforded that much anticipated and long overdue visit to Dublin,” he said.
“And I have no doubt that the great majority of Irish people will extend a warm and friendly welcome to the Queen, just as they did to her grandfather King George V, 100 years ago next year.”