Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 18:22 UK

Orangeman slams cultural tourism

Dawson Bailie and Peter Robinson
Orangeman Dawson Bailie and Peter Robinson at the Orangefest launch

An Orange Order ex-deputy grand master has strongly criticised the DUP for going into government with Sinn Féin.

Reverend Stephen Dickinson told the Ballyclare 12 July demonstration they would not "follow the same route as the Democratic Unionist Party".

He said: "I notice that Peter Robinson and others have been saying in recent days we're about cultural tourism.

"This is about Protestantism, this is about Britishness - it's not about cultural tourism, Mr Robinson."

His comments came against a backdrop of attempts to soften the image of the Orange Order and its traditional annual parades, which mark the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.


There have been efforts to rebrand the Belfast parade as 'Orangefest,' with some believing the event has the potential to become a major tourist attraction.

Speaking on Friday at the launch of 'Orangefest, Northern Ireland's first minister Peter Robinson said: "There is no good reason why Northern Ireland should not become a magnet for those around the globe who are interested in cultural tourism."

Orangeman's sash
Thousands of Orangemen have been parading in Northern Ireland

The DUP leader added: "It is a challenge with a huge potential, and I am delighted that the Institution is rising to meet it."

The leader of the Orange Order, Grand Master Robert Saulters, used his address to thousands of Orangemen at Dromara, County Down, to attack Sinn Féin.

"It is sickening to us, following such dastardly attacks on our people for 35 years, to see the commanders of that enemy sitting in government today, acting as politicians who care for the peaceful existence of the people," he said.

Despite the rebranding effort being undertaken by the Orange Order, the fact remains that it is a deeply sectarian organisation which has not grasped the new political realities of life in 2008
John O'Dowd
Sinn Fein

Ulster Unionist assembly member David McNarry, a senior Orangeman, told the demonstration in Broughshane, County Antrim, that the existence of the IRA army council made for an uneasy peace.

"Name another democracy constituted like ours in which a private army can hold positions in government," he said.

However, he added that the task of unionists in government "is to dilute, if not remove, the Irish Republican agenda from that table.

"Staying away, sitting on the sidelines, conceding more ground, leaving our people at the mercy of Dublin and London, these are no longer choices for unionists."

Sinn Féin assembly member John O'Dowd said remarks made at a number of parades contained "the usual mixture of anti-Catholic and anti-Republican rhetoric".

"Despite the rebranding effort being undertaken by the Orange Order, the fact remains that it is a deeply sectarian organisation which has not grasped the new political realities of life in 2008," he said.

"Nobody listening to the speeches of Order leaders today can conclude that the Orange Order is a religious and cultural body - it is not."

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