Twelfth: Rossnowlagh thousands ‘show enduring strength of Orangeism’

mcauley multimedia  Dancing in the rain at Rossnowlagh Donegal 12th PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
mcauley multimedia Dancing in the rain at Rossnowlagh Donegal 12th PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA

Thousands of Orangemen have taken part in an annual parade in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.

Fifty lodges from counties Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan were joined by lodges from Northern Ireland as well as England and Scotland.

A small number of Orangemen from Canada and America also travelled to the event.

Addressing brethren Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Harold Henning, said in the border counties “our lodges continue to prosper with over 40 Orange halls providing meeting places for members”.

He said last year the Institution and wider society were “horrified and dismayed” when two Orange Halls at Newtowncunningham and Convoy were destroyed in separate arson attacks.

“We know the vast majority of people in the Republic do not condone such activity, but over 20 years after the first IRA ceasefire there still appears to be a legacy of hatred against the Orange Order amongst a small minority, who continue to attack us,” he said.

“Such physical manifestation of the ongoing demonisation of our Institution by some in society has also been evident by the recent spate of attacks on Orange property in Northern Ireland. All such hate crime must be universally condemned.”

Commending the brethren of Newtowncunningham and Convoy “for their resolve and determination in the face of such adversity” he said both halls will be rebuilt.

He said Convoy’s reconstruction will start in coming months.

Commending the “Christian fellowship” evident in Rossknowlagh for the Orange fraternity, Mr Henning said: “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.

“The thousands in attendance today – both participating and spectating – is a welcome reminder of the enduring strength of Orangeism, and how it remains engrained in the cultural fabric of this island,” he added.

The Orange Order had invited Irish President, Michael D Higgins, to the Donegal parade, but he was unavailable to attend.

Mr Henning said that “in this decade of centenaries”, with much focus in the Republic on the events of the Easter Rising of 1916 which he said “will have minimal relevance for the Orange community in this jurisdiction for obvious reasons” he said Orangemen “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 added.