Orangemen buy green, grassy slopes of the Boyne

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A GROUP of ambitious Orangemen have ensured that one corner of the Boyne battlefield will be forever theirs.

They have come together to buy what they consider to be the most historically significant land in the Boyne Valley - the area where William III's main army crossed the river during their decisive battle against the deposed Catholic King James II in 1690.

William's victory there in 1690 is widely seen as a key event in the creation of modern democracy.

"The area of the Boyne we have bought is known as 'the green grassy slopes' and is the place where William and his armies would have overseen the battlefield with James II," said one of the key organisers of the land purchase, Lord Laird.

"It is a key vantage point where William looked out and is the area where many Orangemen would have taken picnics before the start of the Troubles.

"The area of land stretches from the legendary Boyne Obelisk down to the river itself."

The moves are being carried out under the auspices of a new body, the Boyne Foundation, which is to be formally launched at a grand fundraising dinner at the House of Lords next Friday, with the support of Cooperation Ireland.

The event will have special battle re-enactments and Lambeg drumming as part of the programme.

Among the guests expected are former Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Irish Ambassador in London.

"We have only had great support from everyone we have contacted in the Republic of Ireland," said Lord Laird. "Everyone we have contacted in the Boyne area are very pleased with our ideas because they fit right in with their tourism plans for the area.

"The aim of the foundation is to seek equality on the island of Ireland through human rights," he added.

He said the Irish government had already given undertakings that it would rebuild the Obelisk, which was blown up by republicans in 1923.

"It was built in 1735 by men who still had living memories of the battle and at the time was the highest man-made structure on the island," he said.

Drew Nelson, the Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, said his organisation was giving its full backing to the new foundation.

"We are buying land at the exact spot where William's main army entered the river," he said. "In time we hope to turn it into a public park and visitor attraction," he said.

"We recently discovering in Grand Lodge minutes that the order previously considered buying the site in 1911, so it is remarkable that 97 years later we have managed to acquire it."

With the defeat of James II at the Boyne, William was able to strengthen Westminster as "the mother of parliaments", which became a model for others worldwide, limiting the power of monarchs and establishing new civil and religious liberties.