27 April 2009

Orange Order Director calls for a cultural revival across the United Kingdom

The Director of Services of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Dr. David Hume, has told a conference in Glasgow that Protestants need to act to preserve the unique heritage of the United Kingdom and the Orange Institution.

Addressing the bi-annual conference of the County Grand Lodge of Central Scotland in Motherwell at the weekend he said that those who have promoted political agendas which have attempted to downgrade the national identity of the United Kingdom are now in danger of handing political victories to parties which would be at the opposite extreme of the political spectrum.

“Those who have promoted agendas which have attempted to downgrade the national identity of the UK are now in danger of inadvertently handing political victories to parties who are capitalising on the frustration and annoyance of ordinary people, who are now made to feel that they should be ashamed to display their British identity. The truth is that being British is not about race, or creed or culture. Being British is about pluralism not uniformity, it is about respect for difference and about difference itself,” he said.

Dr. Hume said that it had become almost embarrassing to speak about the United Kingdom in any Protestant context.

“The issue of the Act of Settlement is a case in point, with attempts to portray the present constitutional arrangements as being about bigoted outlooks best confined to the 17th century. The truth, as one leading historian put it on Radio Four recently, is very different; the issue is whether a future monarch would be taking political direction if they were Roman Catholic from the Pope, who is a temporal head of state.

“The solution to it all is very simple. The Vatican should withdraw its insistence that the children of mixed marriages must be brought up as Roman Catholics. This would allow individual conscience to prevail.

This was the very issue that so concerned Irish Unionists in the period 1886-1914 and modern Ulster Protestants believe that they were right to oppose Home Rule for the very same reasons that we have concerns over revoking the Act of Settlement today. As Ulster Scots many of us do not come from the Anglican tradition, yet we accept the particular arrangements which inform the Succession to the Throne. These issues need to be dealt with maturely and require mature discussion. Labelling people as bigots is a sign of immaturity,” Dr. Hume said.

And he said all of this political correctness was leading to a situation where ‘Middle Britain’ was switching off from political life, which would be to the benefit of no one.

“The heritage which the Orange Order propounds is a heritage of civil and religious liberty. This means that we support a pluralist society as part of the legacy of the Glorious Revolution of 1688-90. But, equally, it means that we expect to have our majority views and ethos respected and taken account of,” the Orange Order Director of Services said.

In his speech to the conference, he called for members of the Orange Institution to take the lead in a cultural, social and religious revival across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Our challenge in this modern world is to preserve our heritage, but to do much more than that.

Our heritage is built on our culture. Our society. Our ethos. The history that has shaped us. And our faith.

What we need now in this Kingdom is a revival of our identity, for all the best and all the right reasons, a cultural, social and religious revival for the 21st century. There are people who have tried to take the Great out of Great Britain, to bring disunity to this United Kingdom. Our legacy for the future should be to take the lead in making people rightfully proud of who and what they are.

We are the very organisation which can take that lead, the very people who can hand down that legacy.

Barack Obama wrote of his beloved grandmother in the following terms; “What Toot believed kept her going were the needs of her grandchildren and the stoicism of her ancestors.”

That must be what keeps us going as well,” the Orange Order Director of Services said.

“We have been handed a flame to pass on un-extinguished. It is a flame of civil and religious liberty and amidst all storms around it, it will survive,”

21 April 2009

THREE FLAGSHIP TWELFTHS SELECTED

Three Twelfth demonstrations have been selected as flagships for the biggest festival in Northern Ireland.

The flagships will be the standard bearers for the 18 demonstrations being organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland on Monday, July 13, 2009.

The three locations are Banbridge, Bangor and Larne. The events in those areas will receive special promotional support from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland. Grand Lodge will also work closely with the organisers of the flagships to promote the Twelfth.

Official estimates last year calculated that more than 500,000 people either took part in the parades or enjoyed them as spectators.

The Orange Order Director of Services, Dr. David Hume explained:

“Three years ago we chose Bangor as a flagship Twelfth and more than 80,000 people attended the demonstration. The year after that Enniskillen was chosen and the tourist authorities were involved in very successful ‘host training’ for our stewards. Last year the flagship Twelfths were Belfast, Tandragee, Dromara and Coleraine and they proved extremely successful.

“We know that more than half a million people enjoy the Twelfth and there is hard evidence that an increasing number of tourists are planning trips to Northern Ireland at that time of year so they can see the parades.

“Many people time their visit home to family and friends just to see the Twelfth.

“All of our parades are very important and we will be working with all the organisers to maximise the positive impact of the Twelfth parades. But Grand Lodge decided that we should put an extra special effort into three demonstrations this year. We selected the three locations and we have no doubt that they will be a huge success.”

The Orange Order has been working closely with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland to attract more visitors to the province in July.

“We have built a strong relationship with the tourist authorities,” said David Hume.

“They are the professionals in their world and we have listened to their advice so that we can enhance what is available to the public.”

The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Robert Saulters, said:

“The Twelfth is a unique attraction in Northern Ireland and it brings with it immense benefits to the economy and to everyone in the community. We will be doing everything we can to make the Twelfth attractive for all the family and for anyone – local or visiting – who wants to see it.

“This year is very special for our institution. It is Imperial Orange Council year and delegates from across the Orange world will gather in Belfast in July for the 43rd Triennial Conference.

“The Orange Order has 100,000 members throughout the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Togo and Ghana. We are a worldwide fraternity and it will be a special occasions to see so many of our fellow brethren here in Northern Ireland.

“It will be a fantastic opportunity to show off all that is good about Northern Ireland. We are also planning to take delegates to the excellent Boyne Battlefield site near Drogheda.”

The Rossnowlagh parade in Co. Donegal will be held on Saturday, July 11 this year and the demonstrations on July 13 will be in Belfast, Banbridge, Armagh, Londonderry, Kilrea, Dromore (Co. Tyrone), Bangor, Killyleagh, Larne, Glenarm, Ballymoney, Annalong, Coagh, Fivemiletown, Ballymena, Lisburn, Portglenone and Lisbellaw.

Many of the Twelfth demonstrations will form part of festivals running for two or three weeks in their area.

20 April 2009

Loyal Orange Widows Fund Service


PARADE - Sunday 26th April 2009
City of Belfast Loyal Orange Widows & Orphans Fund Service
Annual Church Service in Church House, 1530.
Brethren to assemble at District Assembly Points at 1414 for parade at 1430 sharp.
The Worshipful Master requests full attendance for this important service.

C.G.L.O.L.o.B.


08 April 2009

SHOPS TO STAY OPEN IN BELFAST ON TWELFTH

Shops in the centre of Belfast will stay open on the Twelfth of July this year.

The parades across Northern Ireland will take place on Monday, July 13.
Orangefest, on behalf of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, and Belfast City Centre Management have been working on the initiative since last year, in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The shops will open around 12.30 when the Orange parade has passed through the city centre and is on its way to the demonstration field at Barnett’s Demesne, near Shaw’s Bridge. They will close around 4.30pm, or one hour before the parade makes its return journey.

The Twelfth attracts the biggest single crowd to Belfast at any time during the year and it is believed that more than 250,000 people either take part in the parade or line the route.

Councillor William Humphrey, Deputy Chairman of Orangefest, said:

“The Twelfth is now a major tourist attraction in the Northern Ireland calendar. We know that as well as local people, there are many others who time their visits to the province to co-incide with the celebrations.
“The County Grand Lodge of Belfast and Orangefest have been working for several years to enhance the family friendly atmosphere to the Twelfth and this has been extremely successful.
“The colour, pageantry and music of the Twelfth in Belfast is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people.
“We have worked very successfully with Belfast City Centre Management, the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Belfast City Council and the police to bring about this major development, which we believe will be in everyone’s interests. People will be able to enjoy the parade and take time to have something to eat in the local restaurants or do a bit of shopping.
“The Twelfth in Belfast has become a true festival and we will continue to work to improve the day for everyone. Last year, in conjunction with the police, there was a clampdown on street drinking and this added to the family friendly atmosphere. We will be working closely with the police again this year and we would ask all supporters and visitors to work with us, and the police, to make the Belfast Twelfth a very special and enjoyable day for everyone.”

Andrew Irvine, Belfast City Centre Management, said:

“Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, under the leadership of its President John Moore has undertaken a Herculean effort since September last year to drive footfall and economic life in the city centre.
“The businesses have sealed a very close working relationship with Belfast City Council and Belfast Visitor Centre and Convention Bureau to drive the city forward, now under the heading of Belfast 2009.
“A key element of the current campaign is to leverage the benefit of the extensive offer Belfast has in terms of events and festivals. The business community is therefore pleased to step up to the plate and play its part in helping to build Belfast’s largest visitor number event into a festival with international appeal.”