Page last updated at 06:44 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Plans for Orange Order museums launched

David McNarry, Peter Robinson, Robert Saulters and Jim Allister
Politicians joined Orange Order grand master Robert Saulters for the launch

The Orange Order has launched plans to develop two museums in Northern Ireland.

The £4m project will construct interpretive centres at Schomberg House in Belfast and Sloan's House in Loughgall in County Armagh.

A detailed business plan for the proposal has been submitted to a European funding programme.

Orange Order Director of Services Dr David Hume said the museum would have "unrivalled collections".

He added that it was central to the Order's applications that it had a key role in society.

"Unless there is engagement with the Order from the wider community, there will continue to be misunderstandings leading to conflict and lack of respect for different cultures.

"The Orange interpretive centres proposal gives the opportunity for that understanding to develop."

Significant

Planning permission has already been obtained for the proposed developments.

Loughgall is known as the home of Orangeism because the first Orange lodge was founded there in 1797.

Suggestions for the Belfast centre include the re-creation of a one-third replica model of the sculpture of King William currently on Clifton Street Orange Hall in North Belfast.

At Loughgall, there are plans for tableaux which will recreate the signing of the first Orange lodge warrants in 1795.

"This is without doubt one of the most significant projects ever undertaken by the Orange Order," said Dr. Hume.

"We know there is a massive appetite from all sections of the community about our history and these interpretive centres will become the focal point for anyone who has a sense of history and tradition and wants to learn more."



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