Orange Order commends band for adapting annual event for The Open

Iain Carlisle, chief executive of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland
Iain Carlisle, chief executive of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

The Orange Order has commended a Portrush flute band for its “willingness to adapt” its annual parade in order to minimise disruption during The Open Championship.

The chief executive of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Iain Carlisle, spoke out in support of the Portrush Sons of Ulster after The Guardian published an article claiming the event was “an embarrassing problem” for the organisers of the golf major at Royal Portrush.

Headlined ‘Portrush Orange parade gives the Open an embarrassing problem’, the article by sports journalist Ewan Murray said: “The conclusion of the third round of this year’s Open will be greeted by flutes and drums in Portrush and a depressing look back to a Northern Ireland beset by sectarian division.”

Referring to the line-up and the host band’s plan to parade to a local Orange hall, it added: “There is naturally a comedic, ludicrous undertone to this in 2019 but when placed on the Open’s doorstep it is a horrendously embarrassing look.”

The piece refers to “Orange parades”, but the Orange Order has pointed out that it has not organised the event.

The article sparked an angry reaction on social media, with some Twitter users branding it “one sided”.

The Portrush Sons of Ulster Celebration of Marching Bands will be held in the centre of the town on the evening of Saturday, July 20.

Last year 48 bands took part in a traditional parade through the streets. But this year’s event will be an outdoor concert in the amphitheatre on Kerr Street featuring just six guest bands.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the host band said it took the decision to change its event this year following “months of talks with the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, PSNI, R&A and Translink.”

It said its usual parade was “simply not possible this year”, but said it will use the concert “to show all those who will be visiting for The Open what our culture is all about.”

Voicing his support for the band and the event, Mr Carlisle said: “Whilst the event in Portrush has not been organised by the Orange Institution, we commend the local band for their willingness to adapt their annual event in order to not only minimise disruption, but also to allow visitors to enjoy the very best local bands in an open-air concert.”

Stressing that “marching bands are an important integral aspect of the musical life of Northern Ireland”, he revealed the Orange Institution has sent a complaint about the article to The Guardian.