Belfast Telegraph

Irish President Higgins sends best wishes to Donegal Twelfth marchers

By Rebecca Black

An international gathering of Orangemen and women took place at in the Donegal village of Rossnowlagh with the blessings of the Irish President.

The annual pre-Twelfth parade took place at the seaside venue on Saturday with 50 lodges from across Ireland as well as brethren from Scotland, Canada and America taking part, accompanied by around 30 bands.

A service took place at St John's Parish Church before the procession made its way down a narrow country road, thronged with onlookers to the demonstration field on the edge of the shoreline.

Irish President Michael D Higgins had been invited to attend, but while he was unable to he sent his best wishes and indicated he hoped to attend a future annual parade at Rossnowlagh.

During the speeches, the Orange Order's Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning urged respect for the Easter 1916 commemorations next year.

Referring to the key centenaries of both the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme next year, Mr Henning (below) said the republican celebration will have "minimal relevance for the Orange community", but urged members to respect it nonetheless.

"The Orange Institution and its members want to play a full role in the civic society of this country," he said.

"In this decade of centenaries, there will obviously be much focus in the Republic on the events of the Easter Rising of 1916. This will have minimal relevance for the Orange community in this jurisdiction for obvious reasons; however, they will undoubtedly respect the right of others to mark this event.

"Likewise, we would expect others to acknowledge the importance of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme next year to the unionist community on this island."

He said both the bravery of the soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division as well as from the respective Irish divisions will be remembered.

"We will commemorate them all with pride and dignity as we recall their courage and fearlessness," he said.

Mr Henning also paid tribute to the County Donegal Grand Lodge for hosting the annual Rossnowlagh parade.

"Rossnowlagh offers a unique experience like no other Loyal Order parade, and it is an annual event quite rightly cherished by the Orange family, as we maintain a long-held tradition in the Republic," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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