Orange Order defends no tricolour at new museum

Posted By: June 25, 2015

Orange Order defends no tricolour at new museum 
Orange Order defends no tricolour at new museum
The Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House, Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes. Irish News. June,24,  2015 
Orange Order defends no tricolour at new museum
Charles Thomas Hall, from Connecticut in the US, was the first visitor to the new museum
THE Orange Order has been criticised for failing to fly the Irish tricolour among an array of flags outside its new museum.

The flags at the Museum of Orange Heritage represent nations around the world that are home to Orange lodges, from Canada to Togo.

However, the Republic of Ireland is conspicuously absent from the display, despite lodges being located in several southern counties.

The new museum in east Belfast welcomed its first visitors on Monday ahead of its official opening today.

Located at Schomberg House on Cregagh Road, it has been described as “promoting shared space and greater levels of reconciliation through education”.

The project was part-funded by £3.6m of EU peace fund money and features interactive exhibitions and artefacts of Orangeism.

The Orange Order last night defended the absence of the tricolour, saying the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is located in Belfast, part of the UK. 

However, SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness urged the order to “urgently reconsider in the spirit of reconciliation”.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Orange Order has chosen to omit the Irish tricolour from the array of flags outside its new cultural museum,” he said.

“I understand that the flags represent the nations that are home to Orange lodges and in that respect, it would seem natural that those in the south are recognised.

“The museum is billed as a space where the order intends to share its past in the hope of sharing our future. It would seem the future that they wish to share shows no recognition to those who identify as Irish and recognise the tricolour as their national flag.

“I would urge the order to urgently reconsider in the spirit of reconciliation and outreach, if that is what they intend.”

The international flags are displayed on flagpoles outside the modern facility alongside the Northern Ireland flag.

In a statement the Orange Order last night defended the tricolour’s omission.

“The flags outside the new Museum of Orange Heritage represent the nine active Grand Orange Lodges around the world, including the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana and Togo,” a spokesman said.

“The headquarters of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is located in Belfast and so operates within the legal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.

“The cross of St Patrick is incorporated in the Union flag, and our members in the Republic are quite content that is how they are represented.”

He added: “Rather than focusing on a particular flag, the real news is our new museum, which is a major interpretative centre with very considerable outreach to the wider community.”

A collarette belonging to footballer George Best is among items on display at the museum.

Visitors can learn about Orange symbols and regalia, play instruments, and listen to different types of band music.

The facility also highlights famous Orange members such as Dr Thomas Barnardo, whose philanthropic work led to the foundation of children’s charity Barnardos.

Schomberg House was previously the headquarters of the old Castlereagh council.