Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Drew Nelson has suggested that Ireland rejoin the Commonwealth, saying it would bring the Unionist and Nationalist communities closer together.
Mr Nelson made the suggestion this lunchtime during an historic speech the Seanad, the first time a member of the Orange Order has addressed a house of the Irish parliament.
He was accompanied to Leinster House by leading members of the order, including Grand Master Edward Stevenson, Deputy Grand Master Rev Alastair Smyth and the grand masters of the four border counties, Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan.
In his address Mr Nelson said the order hopes for both traditions to co-operate more.
"We believe strongly that the interest of our members in Northern Ireland is best served by remaining part of the United Kingdom, and we would welcome the Republic of Ireland joining the Commonwealth.
"We believe this would bring the two communities in Ireland closer together, without compromising the ideals of either."
However he criticised Micheál Martin, accusing him of being 'shackled to the past' after the Fianna Fáil leader issued a statement welcoming the address but prefacing it with a commitment to a united Ireland.