£3.6m EU grant for Order's new centres

Published Wednesday, 31 October 2012
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The Orange Order is to receive a grant of £3.6m from the European Union to develop two interpretative centres in Belfast and Co Armagh.

£3.6m EU grant for Order's new centres
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
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16 Comments
Get Real in Glasgow wrote (770 days ago):
Fidelma Breen the O.O is to N.I what the KKK is to America. Horrible Group.
Fidelma Breen in Adelaide, SA wrote (770 days ago):
Noted all the comments below. Can't anyone see that the OO is a valid part of the cultural past of NI and that is what this money is for? You may not like past activities and attitudes but they are no less valid for that. Relic. Dinosaurs. Sectarian. Maybe but they're still part of our past and have as much right to be preserved and retained in archive and memory as nationalist events and organisations. The OO has recognised that it needs to move into cultural territory and out of sectarian realms. The attitudes of ordinary Joe bloggs may not have changed but everyone else is playing the political, realist, funding game. Get with the program ;)
Ryan in Belfast wrote (776 days ago):
@William in Coleraine. William, i have never posted snide and unfounded comments about the Orange order, i state my opinion on my posts, thats what you call DEMOCRACY. Anti-discrimination laws for the Orange Order? Are you having a laugh william? You want anti-discrimination laws in place to protect an organisation that discriminates (and has done so for centuries) against catholics....yeah that makes sense. William, the problem witth you is you dont like the truth and as the old saying goes: "The truth hurts". This is a democracy and EVERYONE is allowed to express their opinion. William, just because Marks from england doesnt mean he shouldnt express his opinion. In fact, Mark has MORE right to an opinion William, since its English taxpayers money keeping the Northern ireland economy afloat.
william in coleraine wrote (776 days ago):
i think they should bring in laws to stop all the discrimination against the loyal orders!and it doesnt help when u have people like ryan making snide and unfounded comments about the orders that arent even true.sinn fein and the carrick hill residents accept the order so its about time the rest of you repulicans fell in line and done that too! the discrimination has to stop!@mark if you hate northern ireland so much why look at our news and post pointless comments and bile about our country? ulstermen have gave their lives for the crown and your entitled to your worthless opinion but to be honest you should just troll somewere else!
Ryan in Belfast wrote (777 days ago):
@Mark, London. Cant help but agree with you Mark, the Orange Order has no good role to play in NI. I have english relatives Mark and they, like you, believes it should be ENGLAND, not scotland, having a referendum on independence. Im sure the english would love to get rid of northern ireland and the sectarian nonsense that comes with it.
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