Republican News · Thursday 23 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Orange Order in Dublin PR stunt

Sinn Féin is seeking a special meeting of Dublin City Council to discuss a controversial Orange Order march scheduled for Dublin city centre on 28 May.

Orangemen plan to march down Dublin's Dawson Street in May to mark the bicentenary of the founding of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Mary Freehil has become embroiled in the controversy. She has backed the march and, in a ceremony linked with it, plans to unveil a plaque on behalf of Dublin Corporation outside the building where the Orange Lodge first met in 1798.

Freehill has been criticised by Sinn Féin for allowing herself to be used in a public relations exercise by the Orange Order, anxious to deflect attention from its activities on Garvaghy Road in Portadown, the Ormeau Road in Belfast and other nationalist areas of the North.

The leader of the Sinn Féin group on Dublin City Council, Christy Burke, said the party was not opposed to the Orange Order ceremony in principle or to Orange marches in areas where they are not opposed by the local community. But he said that Sinn Féin is concerned about any civic endorsement by the Lord Mayor of Dublin for the May event being used in support of the Orange Order siege of the Garvaghy Road in Portadown and other controversial marches in the Six Counties.

Sinn Féin has said there is a serious question mark over the sincerity of claims by the Orange Order in Dublin that a low-key event is planned. George Patton said on Tuesday, 21 March on behalf of the Orange Order leadership in Belfast that the event will involve Orangemen and bands from all over the Six Counties, England and Scotland.

``The Orange Order is certainly singing from two different hymn sheets on this one,'' said Burke.

``Some people are missing the point that the Orange Order, which wants to exercise its democratic rights by marching in Dublin, is the same Orange Order that is continuing its two-year siege of the nationalist community on the Garvaghy Road and denying those people their right to live in peace and without fear of intimidation.''

He said it was hard not to believe that the Orange Order was using the event of marking its foundation in Dublin to bolster its demand to be allowed to bulldoze its way down the Garvaghy Road in July.

``Sinn Féin is not opposed in principle to the Orange Order having a ceremony to mark their foundation in Dublin, but we are concerned that the participation of the Lord Mayor is being used as a civic endorsement of the Orange Order, its siege of the Garvaghy Road and its insistence on forcing its marches through other nationalist areas of the North where they are not welcome.''

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