President Michael D. Higgins has been invited to attend the Orange Order’s annual parade in Rossknowlagh next year.
The Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson issued the invitation at Saturday’s march, the only demonstration in the Republic and one of the biggest of the marching season.
The President is awaiting a formal invitation before he publicly reveals his response.
A spokesperson for the President said today there is a formal process to be gone through, and when invitations are received they are dealt with.
In the first ever invitation from the organisation to an Irish President to take part in the parade, Mr Stevenson said the order was prompted by the “momentous State visit” by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic in 2011.
He told nearly 7,000 Orange Order members and followers at Rossknowlagh that such gestures of reconciliation were hugely symbolic, and were carried out by the queen with great decorum and respect.”
The march, which is always held on the Saturday prior to July 12th, was held against a background of growing tensions in the North prior to next Saturday’s Twelfth of July parades.
Relations between the leaders of the Stormont Executive deteriorated sharply after the Parades Commission banned a controversial Orange march in the Ardoyne area of Belfast next Saturday.
As ever, yesterday’s march in Rossknowlagh passed off without incident.