Published Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Pat Colgan, Minister McCausland and Edward Stevenson, Ireland Grand Master. (© Michael Cooper)
The money has been allocated to the Order's REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage) by the EU's PEACE III Programme.
Plans to expand the Institution's headquarters at Schomberg House and Sloan's House, Loughgall were announced on Wednesday by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the County Armagh Grand Orange Lodge.
The initiative is being described by the Order as "a joint project to promote shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education."
Schomberg House will be extended to house a museum, with a replica Orange Hall, displaying a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world.
Among the documents to be placed on prominent display will be a letter written by William III prior to his departure to Ireland in June 1690.
The new facilities will also incorporate a research facility and educational resource, with particular access for school and cross-community focused visits.
Sloan's House is where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago.
Its refurbishment will include a history of the early Orange Order and include an extension for an exhibition area.
Five full time jobs will be created when the centres open in the summer of 2014.
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in the Republic of Ireland.
Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of Ireland, said the initiative was "one of the most significant projects ever undertaken by the Institution".
"The aim of this transformational project is to create understanding, education, tolerance and mutual respect through interpretation and creation of shared space," he said.
Mr Stevenson added: "We greatly appreciate the support of the European Union's PEACE III Programme and the assistance of our own devolved administration as well as the Government in the Republic - all of which will make a huge difference to our ongoing outreach."
Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, said that when completed, the project will "promote a greater awareness of the history and traditions of the Orange Order."
"By pro-actively reaching out to people, on a cross-community basis, the Order will be able to demystify many of the existing perceptions of what it is.
"This open and honest dialogue will lead to a positive understanding of Orangeism and its place within our society."
© UTV News