The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said he would be happy to see an Orange Order parade in Dublin if they chose to do so (‘Leo Varadkar: I Would Be Happy to See Orange Order Parade in Dublin,’ August 12).
As one who was intimately involved in the organisation, and ultimate ‘postponement’ of the parade arranged in Dublin for 28 May 2000, may I comment on the latest conversation?
The purpose of the proposed parade was to coincide with the unveiling of a plaque outside No 59 Dawson Street, by Dublin Corporation, to mark the house where the first meting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland took place, on 9th April 1798.
When the news of this forthcoming event leaked, much unwarranted criticism was heaped upon Dublin’s First Citizen, Councillor Mary Freehill.
The interest which Cllr Mary Freehill took in this project reflected her ‘great interest in cross border co-operation’.
The unveiling of the plaque went ahead but unfortunately the parade had to be postponed because of the treat of disorder.
Much of this threat came from the Irish National Congress, whose then chair and most vocal opponent of both the parade the plaque, was the now President of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald.
The Irish National Congress reported at that time:
“There were calls of ‘shame’ as the plaque was unveiled. INC Cathaoirleach, Mary Lou McDonald expressed the attempt to hijack Protestant culture and replace it with camouflaged bigotry when she said ‘there is a big difference between accommodating Protestant traditions and accommodating the sectarianism of the Orange Order’.”
One wonders where this now places the Sinn Fein president and her call for ‘Equality’ and ‘Rights’, or is it only a matter of my equality and my rights?
Bran Kennaway (Rev), South Antrim