As thousands of Orangemen prepare to enjoy the Twelfth in Limavady on Saturday, Grand Lodge says it is set to formally invite Irish President Michael D. Higgins to the annual Rossnowlagh demonstration next year and that he’d be as welcome as anyone else at a future Twelfth in Londonderry.
Grand Lodge told the Sentinel there are no plans, at this stage, to formally invite President Higgins to demonstrations in Londonderry or elsewhere in Northern Ireland, but his presence would be welcome.
Asked if the door was open to such a move following on from the success of the Twelfth in Londonderry during the City of Culture celebrations a spokesperson for the Grand Lodge said: “The Twelfth is a public event and is open to all to attend,”
Last Saturday on the shores of the Atlantic, the Grand Master framed his surprise invitation in the context of the apparent warm relations now enjoyed between Buckingam Palace and Áras an Uachtaráin.
He said: “It is against this backdrop, and from this platform today, that I publically invite the President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to join us and witness for himself next year the colour and spectacle of the only Twelfth demonstration in this jurisdiction.
“You will be made most welcome here in Rossnowlagh, President Higgins, and I trust you will accept the genuine invitation in the spirit of good will and neighbourliness in which it is intended.”
Áras an Uachtaráin told the Sentinel: “There is a formal process for invitations to Áras an Uachtaráin. When invitations are received they are dealt with.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday, in Limavady and across Northern Ireland, Orangemen will resolve to condemn the “special privileges afforded in secret by our own government to almost 300 people in a shabby side deal to the Belfast Agreement.”
They will also pledge their support for the Grand Lodge of Scotland in its ongoing unionist campaign against Scottish independence, and welcome the “increased recognition by the government of the Irish Republic of the sacrifice of those who served and were forgotten for so long.”