A ROW between the Orange Order and Ulster Bank has been settled following a “sincere apology” to the loyal order from the company.

Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson had written to Ulster Bank asking for “sponsorship or support” for next year's Twelfth celebrations, following the company's backing of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Mr Nelson took the step after receiving reports of members of staff at the bank's Castlewellan branch wearing Down GAA shirts while serving customers in the run-up to last month's All-Ireland gaelic football final.

The grand secretary had written to Ulster Bank saying: “As a responsible stakeholder in society the Loyal Orange Institution is keen to encourage local businesses and personalities to become more involved with the local community and its activities.

“With this in mind, and given the recent display of encouragement for the County Down gaelic football team, representatives from the institution would be keen to meet with you to discuss how the bank can also engage with and support the local Orange lodges in the Castlewellan area in terms of community development and sponsorship or support for Mini-Twelfth or Twelfth of July related festivals in the near future.”

Mr Nelson said the Twelfth's 500,000-strong audience would provide Ulster Bank with a “unique opportunity to reach a massive community base in one single-day event”.

In reply, the grand secretary has now received a letter of apology from a member of the bank's senior management team.

It reads: “I am obviously aware of the discomfort caused to your members as a result of our support for the Down gaelic football team. I can assure you that we had no intention other than to celebrate their success in the All-Ireland championship.

“You will appreciate that Down's first final appearance for 16 years generated a lot of interest, especially since a colleague based in our Newry branch plays for the team.”

The letter continues: “If we failed to control our enthusiasm in participating with other businesses in Castlewellan's “red and black” celebrations, then I sincerely apologise. I hope you will accept that our actions were in no way intended to be provocative, and that any offence we have caused is entirely unconventional.”

An Orange Order spokesman said Mr Nelson had accepted the bank's apology, and would now be seeking a meeting about sponsorship.

Published on the 11th of October 2010
Article taken from the News Letter

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