Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland in publicly inviting President Michael D Higgins to the annual Rossnowlagh Orange Order parade said he would like President Higgins to “witness the spectacle of the only Twelfth demonstration in the Republic”.
Such an invitation can best be described as a cynical exercise to portray the Orange Order as an all-embracing, open cultural organisation.
It is noteworthy that no invite was extended to President Higgins to witness the spectacle of the Twelfth demonstrations north of the border where the flag of the Republic of Ireland is routinely incinerated on hundreds of bonfires.
The intolerance and hatred which is expressed in these sectarian bonfires pollute not just the atmosphere but community relations throughout the north.
Nowhere else in Europe would the annual ceremonial burning of many hundreds of the national flag of a peaceful neighbouring state go virtually uncommented upon.
The British government and PSNI seems to be in a state of denial over their obligations to prevent and punish such flagrant incitements to hatred.
In 2007 Britain signed a declaration to punish those responsible for incitement to hatred on the grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnic origin with terms of imprisonment but continues to display an unwillingness to prosecute those who incite hatred by burning the Irish Tricolour.
Tom Cooper, Dublin