The anti-Catholic Orange Order has received almost $2.6 million dollars from the Irish government since 2012, new figures show.
The money was dispensed by the Irish government under programs to help the peace process.
The hard-line Protestant institution drew the money down from European funds paid into by the Irish government.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly stated, “Some €5,646,138 in funding has been allocated by the SEUPB (The European body) to projects involving the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland/related body under PEACE III.
"Of this, my Department has contributed funding of €2,047,289 (representing 36.3% of the total allocation); led programs that received over €2 million from the Department of Environment since 2012, new figures have revealed.”
“The Special EU programs Body (SEUPB) manages, inter alia, cross-border European Union Structural Funds in Northern Ireland, including programs under the PEACE III initiative.”
It appears that most of the money went to interpretive centers showing the history of the Orange Order. An Orange Order organization in the Irish Republic has also been funded in County Cavan.
The Order has been at the center of the annual marching controversy which has led to widespread violence over the past few years.
The Order is strongly anti-Catholic. Members take an oath that requires them to “strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish worship; he should by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its powers”
The PEACE III program is an EU program that aims “to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and to promote reconciliation by assisting operations and projects which help to reconcile communities and contribute towards a shared society for everyone.”
It is available to groups in the North and border regions.
A Department spokesperson says that the money is down to a commitment to cooperation.
“The Government has stated its support for the Good Friday and St Andrew’s Agreements in the program for Government. This includes encouraging greater economic co-operation, which can best be achieved within a peaceful, stable environment.
“This Department has a commitment to fund those programs' themes that fall within its remit.”