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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 14:20 GMT
Dublin mayor backs Orange parade
Orangemen continue fight for right to march
Orangemen will march in full regalia through Dublin
Dublin's Lord Mayor has expressed her full support for a proposed march by Orangemen in the Irish capital.

The Search for Peace
Several hundred members of the Protestant organisation will parade, in full regalia with Orange sashes, banners and bands, at the end of May.

Dublin mayor Ms Freehill said she had no difficulty in accommodating an Orange parade in the city, the first such event since 1937.

"It has my support of course to have an Orange Order parade in Dublin. People have the absolute right to do that - we have the right of free assembly here.

"The fact is that the Orange Order was founded in Dublin. That is a fact of history and we don't have any difficulty with that."

Ms Freehill, will meet the visiting Orange leaders from Northern Ireland together with their Dublin colleagues.

Before the parade, they will take part in the unveiling of a plaque on the site of the first Orange Order headquarters on Dawson Street.

Orange Order executive officer George Patton welcomed the move.

"We are extremely pleased about this and not a little bemused that we can walk in Dublin but not down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

"This is the first time in my memory that there has been a parade in Dublin."

He said the event would be organised by the Dublin lodge and estimated that up to 400 would take part.

The Dublin parade could become an annual event if all goes well.

"I think the Dublin people will be looking at that and, if it is successful in May, look at doing it again in following years," said Mr Patton.

David Jones: Invitation is ironic
Portadown Orange lodge spokesman David Jones welcomed the Dublin visit as a "wonderful gesture", but also pointed to the irony of Orangemen being able to assemble freely in the Irish Republic while being barred from marching along the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

Ian Cox, of the Dublin and Wicklow Orange lodge, said it would be a small parade by Orange Order standards. "We want to see how the land lies, test the waters."

He said the parade on Sunday, 28 May would be restricted to Dawson Street, where the original headquarters was sited.

Relations between the Orange Order and the authorities in the Irish Republic have improved recently.

Grand Master Robert Saulters visited Irish Premier Bertie Ahern in Dublin and also had a meeting with President Mary McAleese last month.

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