THE people of Newtowncunningham are being held up as the way it should be – north of the border.
An offer from Naomh Colmcille GAA club to the Orange Order for the use of their club house for Orange meetings is making headlines.
The offer, and its warm reception from the local Co Donegal lodge, was the subject of much debate on BBC Radio Ulster’s popular TalkBack programme, hosted by Wendy Austin.
The Orange hall in Newtowncunningham was destroyed in an arson attack in September. It had been used as a community facility before it was targeted by arsonists.
Newtowncunningham GAA club wrote to the local Orange lodge afterwards to offer them the use of their facilities.
Orange Order members in the village said they were delighted by the offer and have pledged to invite the GAA club to the opening of their new hall when it is rebuilt.
Lodge treasurer Stewart McClean told the BBC’s Talkback programme: “We received a letter from them offering use of their premises while our own hall’s being rebuilt, something we took great support out of.
“We have been inundated with messages of support from the local community, from the parish hall from the local Gaelic club – even some of the local businesses are organising a dance for us to raise funds to help us rebuild again.”
Former Donegal senior footballer Brendan Devenney said no-one would object to the offer.
“There would be no issue at all with that from anybody in Newtowncunningham,” he told the BBC radio programme.
“Growing up as a kid in Newtown, I remember being down in the Orange hall all the time, there used to be fundraisers and bazaars.
“That [GAA] pavillion down there, it’s not really seen as some kind of hardcore nationalist GAA place, it’s seen as a place for people in the community.”
Listeners to the programme responded warmly to the story – with many saying it’s how it should be north of the Border.