14 March 2009

ORANGE ORDER TO MEET REPUBLIC’S EDUCATION MINISTER

Senior officers of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland are to hold their first official meeting with a Government Minister from the Irish Republic on Tuesday, March 10.
Senior members of the Order will be in Dublin to discuss proposed cuts in grants to Protestant schools in the Republic.
The delegation will include the Grand Master, Robert Saulters, Grand Secretary, Drew Nelson, and senior officers from Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan.
They will meet the Education Minister Batt O’Keefe and have a separate meeting with the Fine Gael spokesman on Education, Brian Hayes.
“We are extremely concerned about the future of education for Protestant children in the Republic,” said Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary.
“Last autumn’s budget in the Republic proposed the removal of the Special Service support grant from Protestant fee paying schools. This is totally unacceptable and would have a major effect on the education of Protestant children.
“We will be making the point very clearly to the education minister, that the Protestant population want to play their part in civic society in the Irish Republic, but actions like this send out the wrong message to our community.“The Protestant population – particularly along the border counties –are isolated and vulnerable and there has been a tradition amongst them to keep their heads down, but this is an issue they feel obliged to highlight. The Orange Institution speaks for a great number of Protestant families and we feel it is our duty to speak up about these proposed cuts.”