08/06/2018

Taoiseach Makes Historic Visit To Orange Order HQ In Belfast

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has made history by becoming the first Irish Prime Minister to visit the headquarters of the Orange Order in Belfast.

During his visit to the Cregagh Road headquarters today, 08 June, Mr Varadkar met with senior Orangemen, including Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, as well as being given a tour of the Museum of Orange Heritage. He also paid his respects at a memorial window in tribute to 336 members who were killed during the course of the the Troubles.

Later, the Taoiseach will launch the Féile an Phobail community festival in West Belfast.
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Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said: "We are very pleased to welcome the Taoiseach to the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast. We acknowledge this is a significant moment; as it is the first time a serving leader of the Republic of Ireland government has visited the headquarters of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

"As a cross-border organisation, we welcome the Taoiseach's direct engagement with our members based in the border counties of the Republic and in so doing, recognising the longstanding cultural identity of the Orange family in the south."

Commenting on the Taoiseach's proposal, made during his visit, to further develop an educational exchange scheme involving school pupils from the Republic visiting the Orange museum, Mr Stevenson added: "This announcement today can only lead to a better understanding, by all those who live on the island of Ireland, of the cultural heritage and traditions of Orangeism; its history; and its continuing relevance in modern society.

"Our next step will be continuing our meaningful engagement with the Irish Government on this, and other matters of mutual interest."

(LM/MH)

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