Irish Republican News · April 24, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Anti-Catholic parades in line for aid

Member lodges of the Protestant Orange Order have applied for over two hundred thousand Euros of grant aid money to stage sectarian parades.

This is the first time the openly sectarian organisation has asked for this type of public funding, although it has received small amounts of cash in the past from the British government.

If successful, the applications will eat up almost a third of the Festivals Fund budget in the North. A decision on the applications is expected on May 1.

To secure financial backing, an applicant has to project a positive image and demonstrate that the event in question will attract tourists. Tourism is not usually associated with the provocative and contentious marches, a number of which led to intense rioting by both Orangmen and nationalist protestors last year.

SDLP assembly member John Dallat has said the Orange Order clearly did not project a positive image.

“The public would much rather see this cash injected into tourism projects, rather than loyalist parades,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin councillor Philip McGuigan has launched a fierce attack on funding of the anti-Catholic Orange Order through another grant aid programme administered by the town of Ballymoney, in County Antrim.

Speaking at the monthly council meeting Councillor McGuigan queried the method used after several payments were made to Orange Order lodges.

Councillor McGuigan said he didn’t understand how the funds would enhance community relations, the ostensible purpopse of the grant programme.

He pointed out that Orange lodges bar entry to Catholics and had done nothing for community relations in the area.

The town council’s Financial Officer, Iris McCleery, said what she described as ‘single identity’ groups were not prohibited from receiving funds. Ms McCleery said such groups could get funding under educational criteria.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News