Thousands of spectators flocked to Rossnowlagh on Saturday, July 8 for the annual Twelfth parade which saw around 50 lodges from Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan take part.
A new bannerette of Revival in Ireland Memorial LOL 1859 was on display at Rossnowlagh for the first time and the sermon was delivered by Robert Campbell, County Antrim Deputy Grand Chaplain.
Proceedings were chaired by the County Donegal Grand Master, David Mahon and the main speaker was Stuart Brooker, Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
During his address, Mr. Brooker said the Orange Order is “standing at a crossroads, and we are facing testing times.”
He said the orange institutions are “under constant attack, and often unfair scrutiny [including] organised opposition to our traditional parades.” Mr. Brooker said the order is “reaching out to the wider community … in a spirit of openness and goodwill.” He referred to educational programmes aimed at the nationalist community.
“It’s a pity that we don’t see that same tolerance and respect reciprocated by others,” he continued.
Faced with questions about the relevance of the Orange Order, Mr. Brooker advised members to “progress, evolve, and adapt to the world in which we live.” He said: “We must modernise, and rationalise, and bring our young members on.
“We can’t change the basis of our Institution, and its core values, and we mustn’t. We are a Christian organisation, that upholds the standards of the Reformed faith, and we should make those standards the role and practice of our lives. But alongside that, we must be an organisation that knows where it is going, and, if we know where we are going, we can look forward to the future with hope.
“To shape that direction however, requires hard work … We must challenge everything we do, and why we do it, and how it will further the Institution,” he said.
Mr. Brooker concluded: “The Orange Institution must be, and be promoted as, a good, positive, relevant, and worthwhile organisation, not only amongst the membership, but in the wider community.”
The Twelfth in Donegal has been held in Rossnowlagh since the 1900s. It is traditional to hold the parade on the Saturday before the main Twelfth parades to allow lodges from the Republic to attend demonstrations in Northern Ireland.