More than a dozen Orange lodges applied for UK Government funding to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland — with just one being successful.
The loyal order’s governing body was also turned down after it applied for funding for an exhibition.
Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph show how £1m in UK Government money has been awarded through the Northern Ireland Office’s (NIO) Shared History Fund.
More than 100 applications to a scheme providing grants to mark Northern Ireland centenary were rejected. The money is being distributed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund using criteria set by the NIO.
To date, just over £1m has been committed to 39 projects, with £667,760 being paid out to date and a further £332,540 approved and awaiting allocation.
The remaining money relates to 15 medium (£10k-£100k) projects, totalling £785,000.
All 24 small (£3k-£10k) projects have received grants totalling £215,300.
A total of 152 groups and organisations applied for funding, with 36 being successful and 116 rejected.
Successful bidders included Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Belfast City Council and the Chinese Welfare Association. They received the most funding – £94,600, £87,700 and £79,000, respectively.
Smaller grants were awarded to two dozen organisations, including Shared Future News (£4,200), Naiscoil Ghreanachain (£4,900) and The Irish Association (£7,000). Just one Orange lodge — Magherafelt District LOL No3 (£29,600) — was approved for funding, despite more than a dozen lodges applying to the Shared History Fund.
A successful application was also submitted by the community group Ti Chulainn Limited for a project called ‘The Northern Ireland/North of Ireland, partition and South Armagh’. It had funding of £8,200 approved.
A total of 43 bids for grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 were rejected, as well as 73 applications for grants above £10,000.
In relation to the rejected applications for the larger, £10,000+ grants, failed bids included one submitted by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for a centennial exhibition, another from the County Down Grand Orange Lodge for a ‘Northern Ireland Centenary Historical Trail’, and one from the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.
Last week, Orange Grand Secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson accused the government of "failing to properly celebrate" the centenary, describing himself as "bitterly disappointed"
TUV leader Jim Allister said the “failure” to celebrate the centenary was “frankly a disgrace”, questioning why only one lodge application was successful.
“The desire to void any significant celebration of the anniversary is reflected in the turning down of so many worthy projects proposed by the Orange Order, one of the organisations which the NIO could be sure would actually take pride in the achievements of this part of the UK over the past 100 years,” he said.
“When some considers that some of the events which were successful in obtaining funding — such as the South Armagh project — it is clear that the NIO wasn’t ever going to permit the very small pot of funding it allocated to be seen as a celebration of Northern Ireland.”
DUP MLA Gary Middleton added: "I appreciate there will be varying narratives around the centenary and all have a right to have their perspective reflected but for a pro-union Government to only allocate a million pounds for the centenary fund was a mistake,” he said.
The Orange Order has been contacted for comment.