Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson has declared that his institution “will never allow the perpetrators of violence to be viewed as victims” as he prepares for the upcoming Orange Victims’ Day gathering.
The day of remembrance falls on Tuesday, September 1 – which this time is exactly 45 years to the day since a republican terror unit murdered five people in an attack upon Tullyvallen Orange Hall in south Armagh.
The Order’s records show that, in all, 338 Orangemen and one Orangewoman were killed during the Troubles.
Orange Victims’ Day (the third annual incarnation of the event) will see the leadership of the Orange Order joined by representatives of the Junior Grand Orange Lodge, Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, Royal Arch Purple Chapter, Royal Black Institution, and the Apprentice Boys of Derry at Schomberg House in east Belfast.
The Orange Order said it believes this is the first time the leaders of all these Orders will have formally met for such an occasion.
There will be a wreath-laying in the Orange Garden of Remembrance by the Grand Master.
Meanwhile county, district and private lodges are being encouraged to hold small events in their areas – in line with the Covid-19 guidelines – to commemorate murdered members within their locality.
Grand Master Stevenson said: “I am determined that the innocent victims of the Troubles and their families will remain a key priority for the Orange Institution and I view the continuation of our designated victims’ day as a significant public demonstration of that.
“This year, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the memory of those who lost their lives during the Troubles and also our support to those who lost loved ones or suffered life-changing injuries.
“The Orange Institution suffered significantly. One in every 10 of all those killed during the Troubles was a member of our organisation. This yearly initiative continues to serve as a constant reminder of the loss experienced by Orangeism during the terrorist campaign.
“Cemeteries across this Province bear testimony to the sacrifice paid by so many people, particularly our members.
“More than half of them were singled out by republicans because they were serving the community in the security forces.
“Others were targeted simply because they were Protestant and members of the Orange Order.
“They must never be forgotten.”
He added: “We see on a near daily basis the efforts of republicans to re-write history in an attempt to create some kind of justification for their campaign of murder.
“The Orange Institution will never allow the perpetrators of violence to be viewed as victims.”
In 2011, a memorial stone was dedicated by Grand Lodge at a remembrance event at the Ulster Hall.
The permanent tribute now resides in the memorial garden at Schomberg House.
A contemporary stained glass window is also located at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast, so too a memorial book recognising every individual victim.
A special page featuring resources relating to Orange Victims’ Day has been added to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland website.
It can be view
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