President delaying response to Orange Order parade invite

President Michael D Higgins is holding back from an immediate response to a public invitation to attend the only Orange Order parade in the Republic next year.

Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson issued the invitation at Saturday’s march in Rossnowlagh, Donegal. The President is a awaiting a formal invitation before he publicly reveals his response.

A spokesperson for the President said: “There is a formal process for invitations to the Áras. When invitations are received they are dealt with.”

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 followers at a rally in the sand-dunes of Rossnowlagh: “Such gestures of reconciliation were hugely symbolic and carried out by Her Majesty with great decorum and respect.”

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.

The banning of the same march last year led to several days of serious loyalist rioting.

In Rossnowlagh gardaí reported no trouble as Union jacks fluttered and more than 30 bands joined the 50 lodges from southern border counties as well as Northern Ireland.

Orangemen have paraded in Co Donegal since the early 1900s.

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