13 July 2010

SENIOR BELFAST ORANGEMEN AND DEPUTY LORD MAYOR, WILLIAM HUMPHREY, AT BELFAST TWELFTH

The following speech was given by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Wor. Bro. William Humphrey at the platform proceedings at the Belfast demonstration on Monday, 12th July 2010.

"I am delighted and indeed honoured to be invited to address this great gathering at Belfast on the 320th Anniversary of William’s Glorious victory at the Battle of the Boyne.

I would like to thank the County Grand Lodge of Belfast for the invitation and to congratulate them on the vision of establishing Orangefest as the catalysis to promote Belfast’s Boyne celebrations.

 Sisters, Brethren and friends, today we commemorate and celebrate the Battle of the Boyne, the defining battle of the Glorious Revolution.
 We thank God for sending for deliverance from tyranny and arbitrary power. We give thanks for William of Orange and for his great victory at the Boyne.
 And for his pledge to what is now our United Kingdom
 “The Protestant religion and the liberties of England, I will maintain.”
As we know from our Orange ritual and from the great writers of history, at the Battle of the Boyne William defeated the tyranny of the Roman Catholic King James.
 There is no doubt, that without William’s arrival our cherished United Kingdom as currently constituted would simply not exist.

In celebrating the 320th Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne we should never forget the tremendous privileges which flowed for this United Kingdom from the Glorious Revolution. 
 Privileges, which were hard, won and privileges we must never take for granted.
 Orangefest is the perfect occasion to appreciate aspects of Ulster's rich heritage and culture – Diversity is strength not a threat. Diversity provides a real opportunity for a tolerant, inclusive society to be established within this city.
 In recent years, the Orangefest committee, working with the County Grand Lodge of Belfast, has been developing the 12th July celebration as an increasingly family friendly event.
Last year we witnessed city centre shops opening for the first time in many years.
The results were extremely positive:-
•    Trading was equivalent to that of a Thursday night.
•    62% of those who attended had NEVER been to a Belfast 12th before.
•    98% of shoppers polled said they enjoyed their day and would be back this year.
Belfast is currently marketed as the UK’s City of Festivals. Within the Belfast’s festival calendar The Twelfth is the largest tourist attraction, not just in our capital city, but across Northern Ireland.
We know that along with indigenous population, there are many national and international visitors who travel to Northern Ireland in July, ensuring that their visit to coincides with our celebrations.
 The County Grand Lodge of Belfast and Orangefest have, for the past four years, been working with central and local government departments, Belfast City Council, the visitor and Convention Bureau, Chamber of Trade, the City Centre Management and the police to further enhance the family friendly atmosphere of the Twelfth.

This has proven to be very successful.
 The colour, pageantry and music of the Twelfth in Belfast is enjoyed by over 250,000 thousand people. The BBC’s live television broadcast attracts a huge audience share – not  to mention the two local channels’ highlight programmes.
 The number of tourists travelling to Northern Ireland for the Twelfth has grown exponentially. The three Belfast Welcome Centres have all witnessed an increase in terms of interest in July.
These visitors have a hugely beneficial knock on effect to the local economy with their spend benefitting local bars, restaurants, transport companies, drapers and hotels around the Twelfth holidays.
Indeed, such has been the growing attraction of the Belfast Twelfth that some hotels are registering “bed night” occupancies of more than 80% over the 11th -13th July.
•    Figures recently released by the Belfast Visitor Convention Bureau reveal that in July, 1999, 22,694 hotel rooms were sold in the city.
•    Ten years later this had almost trebled to 64,900 in July. With a significantly higher number of beds available - Hotels in Belfast had an average 63% occupancy in July 2009.
•    In 2008, 53,800 rooms were sold in Belfast in July and this rose to 64,900 last year – an increase of 21%.

Much more needs to be done and greater resource given to maintain the significant progress that has been made in the development of the Twelfth as a tourist product.
Ladies and gentlemen, there can be no doubt that the Twelfth of July is a positive for Belfast and increasingly its economic benefit to the local economy is being accepted and appreciated.
Despite the broad appeal demonstrated today across Ulster with some 700k people taking part in or spectating at our various demonstrations we still have those who would deny this Institution its place in Northern Ireland society.
The right to assemble and parade as Orange brethren has been curtailed by the Parades Commission. We must recommit ourselves to ensure that the Parades Commission is no more.
 What of the Parades Commission – Their processes are incoherent, their decisions inconsistent and their approach is incompetent.
 However, politically we have made some progress:-
 We have secured the de-rating of Orange halls.
 New Criminal Damage legislation will ensure compensation for Orange halls attacked, damaged or destroyed.
 The Twelfth of July once again provides us with the opportunity to showcase all that is good about our enduring Orange tradition.
 However, Sister and Brethren it is parading and the orchestrated campaign of attacks on our property which continue to cause concern.
 More than 300 of our halls have been seriously damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately these attacks continue, seemingly unhindered and at will.
 Intolerance and sectarianism is also demonstrated on the attacks upon our traditional Orange parades.
The reality is that Nationalist and Republican politicians and commentators must take responsibility for such behaviour.
 They cannot call people on to the streets to oppose the legitimacy of Orangeism or make inflammatory speeches and not accept the responsibility for the actions of those who act outside the law.
 They peddle intolerance and demonise our tradition!
 Sisters and Brethren, we know Sinn Fein is intolerant, we know they despise our culture and heritage, but today I have a simple message for the Sinn Fein leadership.
You Can’t Win, You Won’t Win, We Will Never Surrender!
Sisters, Brethren and friends, we know that Republicanism fears our Orange Institution. The Orange Order is the glue which holds our community together. The great common denominator in the Protestant community is their target.
 The question we must ask is why? Yet the answer is simple!
 The Orange Institution is the biggest impediment to their achieving their goal. Gerry Adams has said that Sinn Fein’s aim is to realise a United Ireland by 2016.
So let me re-iterate what that great Presbyterian unionist Thomas Sinclair said at the Unionist Convention in 1892
“We are Children of the Glorious Revolution and we never accept a Dublin Parliament.”
Well from this platform – 118 years later let me spell it out for Gerry – it just won’t happen!

Not Now – Not in 2016 – Not Ever!


What Nationalists and Republicans opposed to our great tradition are increasingly realising is that as an Institution we are now more competent and confident than we have been for generations.
 We are now playing our role in civic society and engaging with local, regional and yes National governments across these islands.
 The Orange Institution is not demoralised and as the talk’s process recently demonstrated our voice is no longer ignored.
 It is time for the Sinn Fein leadership to practice what they preach. They talk of Building an Ireland of Equals and yet practice intolerance and cultural sectarianism toward this Institution.
 As Adams showed when his masked slipped in his Athboy speech all those years ago and Maginnes showed last year with a speech in Bodenstown, SF isn’t interested in accommodation it’s about domination. They simply wouldn’t have an Orangeman about the place.
 Where is the Equality, where is the Parity of Esteem, where is the commitment to a shared and better future!
 The reality is that Nationalist and Republican politicians and commentators must take responsibility for this.   
I have a clear message for our Orange family across this United Kingdom. We have turned the corner, we have weathered the storm. We must set a course and show determination and resolve to ensure our tradition endures.
 I am confident about my unionism, I am confident about my Orangeism.
 Sisters, Brethren and friends. Our Cause is a just cause.
William of Orange and the Glorious Revolution left us with a Great and Honourable legacy.
 As Protestants, within our fraternity, we are a proud and progressive people.  Here we stand we can do no other.
 Fellow Unionists – Be Confident, Be Determined, Be Assured
 Our tradition will prevail and our heritage will endure but our message remains the same – No Surrender!   

11 July 2010

TWELFTH RESOLUTIONS - 2010

These resolutions are read, proposed and seconded at each of the 18 demonstrations.

FAITH

As members of the Loyal Orange Institution, a Christian organisation, we affirm our belief in the one true sovereign God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We believe that there is only one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, the only King and head of His church.

We believe that for individuals to have hope for time and for eternity it is necessary for them to come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.  We strongly urge men and women to “search the Scriptures” which are able to make them wise unto salvation, so that through the work of the Holy  Spirit they may be led to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of mankind.


LOYALTY

That we, the Orangemen assembled at Belfast in commemoration of the 320th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne do hereby reaffirm our devotion and loyalty to the Throne and Person of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms, Defender of The Faith.

We re-affirm our support for the 1701 Act of Settlement, which forms the basis for the Civil and Religious Liberties which we and others throughout the British Commonwealth continue to enjoy as nations, and clearly state our opposition to any attempt to Repeal this Act.


THE STATE

As an Institution we celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, which established Civil and Religious Liberty and allowed the evolution of modern constitutional democracy.

We join with the Grand Lodges in England and Scotland in remaining firm for the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Union provides all the people of the United Kingdom with stability and opportunity and is a heritage worthy of being passed down untarnished to future generations.

To further the cause of the Union, we call on our political representatives to work for and seek a common voice on the central issue that matters to the unionist people

10 July 2010

FIVE FLAGSHIP TWELFTHS SELECTED

Five 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 12, 2010.

The five locations are Hillsborough, Portrush, Cookstown, Newtownstewart and Antrim.
The events in those locations have been judged of a high standard in terms of activities and the ability to engage with visitors and tourists.

The selection process included input from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland. 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:
 “This is the fifth anniversary of our Twelfth Tourist Flagship programme and we believe that it has been a huge success, Those who apply for flagship status have to undergo a quite rigorous selection process and we believe that it is good for capacity building within the Institution, All of those involved put in a tremendous amount of work and are to be congratulated,” he said.

 “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 five flagship demonstrations this year.

“The idea behind the Flagship Twelfths is to look at the demonstrations through the eyes of tourists. They will be professionally run events, organised to a high standard. We want to engage directly with tourists and visitors and make them feel welcome.

“Cultural tourism is a growing industry and we are determined that the Orange Order will play its part in developing this sector of business. 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 and we appreciate their input. We have built a strong relationship with the tourist authorities. 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 now firmly established on the cultural calendar of Northern Ireland. It is a wonderful event which attracts massive numbers of spectators and participants. There is nothing which can equal the colour, music and pageantry of the Twelfth or indeed the traditions which have made this such an important day to so many people.

“It is also a time when we welcome friends from all around the world and hopefully we will also meet new friends who come to see the spectacle of the Twelfth.”

09 July 2010

SHOPS TO STAY OPEN IN BELFAST ON TWELFTH

Shops in the centre of Belfast will again open on the Twelfth this year, which will be held on Monday, July 12.

Orangefest, on behalf of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, and Belfast City Centre Management have been working on the initiative for over three years in partnership with the City Council, transport authorities, the police and other stakeholders.

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.

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 through Orangefest have been extremely successful in enhancing the family friendly atmosphere of the Twelfth following the darks days of the Troubles. The colour, pageantry and music of the Twelfth in Belfast is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people, who after watching the event can enjoy aa meal in a city centre restaurant or do a bit of shopping.

“Last year in conjunction with the police and Council officials, there was a clampdown on street drinking and with the full support of the County Grand Lodge a similar initiative will be mounted this year.”

The Chairman of Orangfest, George Chittick said:
“We will be working closely with all agencies to ensure the Belfast Twelfth is a very special and enjoyable day for everyone.”

08 July 2010

ROSSNOWLAGH THIS SATURDAY

The annual Twelfth parade in Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal, will be held on Saturday, July 10.

Fifty lodges from Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan , as well as visiting Orangemen, will take part in the parade which begins close to St. John’s Parish Church at 12.30pm, slightly earlier than normal.

The parade then goes to the demonstration field, on the edge of the shoreline – surely one of the most beautiful locations for an Orange parade anywhere in the world.

A religious service, set against the backdrop of the Donegal Hills and the rolling breakers of the Atlantic, will be held at 3pm. The service will be conducted by local minister Rev. Brian Russell, and the special preacher will be Rev. Stanley Gamble, a Grand Chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

The Twelfth in Donegal has been held in Rossnowlagh since the 1900s and has taken place there every year since 1978. It has become traditional to hold the parade on the Saturday before the main Twelfth parades. This means that lodges in the Irish Republic are able to attend the Twelfth demonstrations in Northern Ireland.

There are 44 Orange Halls in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim and the Orange Order has members in nine counties in the Irish Republic.

07 July 2010

STATEMENT ON PARADES LEGISLATION

A special meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was held in County Tyrone on July 6, 2010.

By a majority vote of those present, Grand Lodge decided not to accept the draft parades legislation in its present form as the way forward.

Grand Lodge officers will meet in the near future to discuss the issue and also the code of conduct which is out for consultation until September.

Belfast Twelfth Parade 2010

The parade to mark the 320th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne will leave Belfast Orange Hall, at Carisle Circus, at 10.00am.

The Miller Memorial Flute band will lead the parade as it makes its way along Clifton Street, Donegal Street, Royal Avenue, Castle Junction, Donegall Place to Belfast City Hall.

A wreath laying ceremony will take place at the City Hall and the parade will then proceed via Donegal Square West, Bedford Street, Dublin Road, Shaftsbury Square, Bradbury Place, Lisburn Road, Balmoral Avenue and Malone Road to Barnetts Demense.

It is expected that 70 bands will take part in the parade.

A service of thanksgiving, starting at 2.30pm, will be conducted by Rev.Dr.Victor Ryan, Imperial and Grand Chaplain. The address and resolution on faith will be given by Rev.Mervyn Gibson, Deputy Grand Chaplain.

The resolutions on loyalty and state will be presented by Thomas Haire, County Grand Master and the guest speaker will be Councillor William Humphrey.

The return parade will begin at 4.15pm.

In the Twelfth booklet, the new Belfast County Grand Master Tom Haire paid tribute to the work of his predecessor Dawson Bailie who had given sterling service over the past 10 years.

Mr Haire said Orangefest, which acted in a supporting role for the County Grand Lodge’s Twelfth Commemoration, had been a big success over the past few years.

“It is good to see the increase in the number of tourists not only turning out to watch the parade but to attend events and exhibitions organized over this period,” he wrote in the Twelfth booklet.

“I hope that whenever they go home they will tell others of their experience and encourage them to visit Northern Ireland and especially Belfast for the Twelfth. It is interesting to note that the Belfast Twelfth draws the largest television audience for a local live broadcast and is now watched around the globe on the BBC Northern Ireland web site.”

06 July 2010

Speech by Dr. David Hume MBE, Director of Services of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, to the Airdrie Ulster Scots July celebrations

Links between Scotland and Ulster should be a priority for the governments in Edinburgh and Belfast, a leading Orange Order official and community leader has said.

Addressing the Airdrie Ulster Scots Boyne celebrations on Tuesday evening, he called on resources to be made available to develop east-west links.

Dr. Hume accused some of having a vested interest in avoiding the official recognition which such links deserved.

“The Belfast Agreement of 1998 and the subsequent St. Andrew’s Agreement promised east-west links. Yet these have not been developed. In recent meetings with the Minister of Culture in Northern Ireland and with the equivalent Minister in the Republic of Ireland it was clear that there is a willingness to see such links fostered,”

“The question we as Ulster Scots must ask is why there has not been the willingness to develop those links in the years since 1998. Are there civil servants with a vested interest in not developing these links? Is there lack of vision in encouraging those willing to develop the links?” he asked.

“The one thing that everyone should be very clear about is that throughout our history the Ulster Scots people have had no time for duplicity. If the Belfast Agreement was sold to us on the basis that there would be east-west links and these were deliberately never developed then we will rightly want to know why and who is responsible,”
“It is clear that the body established by the British and Irish governments to encourage the development of Ulster Scots feels that it has no remit to develop east-west links,”

“The Ulster Scots Agency may be technically right in this, and we need to see how the hopes of groups such as my own community group in Ballycarry, County Antrim, were dashed over the years when we wanted assistance to develop links with a community in Scotland,”

“Ironically, we are developing links with Mid Argyll in Scotland, where funding from the Gaelic language bodies is easier to obtain for east-west links than funding from any other organisation,”

“This is not merely academic. The Ulster Scots community is in my view becoming increasingly alienated from the political process. It was given promises which have proved empty words up to now. It is no wonder that so many people from Ulster Scots heartlands do not vote at elections anymore; almost 50% in the case of East Antrim, 42% in North Antrim and 55% in North Down, for example. People are disillusioned because they believe that they were duped over the Belfast Agreement and the promises they expected to be followed through were broken. Unless there is some evidence of issues such as east-west links being addressed, then this sense of dislocation from political life will continue.

The Orange Order Director of Services also said that the question of east-west links was one which could bear fruit from an economic point of view.

“Linking areas in Scotland and Northern Ireland can have significant effects in terms of cultural tourism to both regions, as well as social and cultural benefits, business and economic links and other spin-offs. We should bear in mind the high percentage of Scottish tourists visiting Northern Ireland – 284,000 visits in 2009 and around £59 million spend, although this figure should be higher– and at this time of year there is a steady flow of visitors to both areas, courtesy of the Orange Order and its celebrations.

“We are fed up being viewed as a culture which is best ignored, when our members and supporters, our bands and our community, boost the economy of Scotland and Northern Ireland through travel and participation in each other’s demonstrations and parades. Without us the hotel industry, the ferry companies, gift shops and others would be worse off. Businesses who engage with us know the potential. It is time everyone saw it, and appropriate recognition from the tourist boards on board parts of the island would be welcome,”

The Director of Services said that he believed the Orange Order was the most significant body in Scotland to be maintaining links at the present time, and that as an organisation with tens of thousands of members it had an interest in seeing official recognition and development of east-west links.

“The news that the British Irish Council is at last – after 12 years – to have a permanent home is to be welcomed. This body has not been relevant to the grassroots Ulster Scots people but it can play a part by acknowledging the importance of this community and the potential which it presents. I think many of us as activists in our communities are willing to be patient on these matters, but the clock is ticking and has been since 1998,” he said.

“There now needs to be a strategic plan to develop links between Ulster and Scotland. In a recent meeting which our community group had with the Minister of Culture, Nelson McCausland MLA, we were greatly encouraged at his approach in terms of the need for strategic thinking on this important issue. We would like to see all politicians sign up to this proposition as evidence of the shared future which we would wish for people on these islands,” he said.

Dr. Hume is, in addition to his role within the Orange Order, Festival Director of the Broadisland Gathering, Northern Ireland’s longest-established Ulster Scots family festival and chairman of Ballycarry Community Association in County Antrim. He was awarded the MBE in 2007 in relation to his community work.

Brethren and Freens,

I am delighted to be with you today and to bring the fraternal greetings of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, and also the greetings of my own private lodge, Magheramorne LOL 291 in Larne District of County Antrim.

As an Ulster Scot I also am delighted to be here. Ulster and Scotland have a shared heritage which includes the Orange tradition and the Orange Institution. As an Ulster Scot whose roots lie in the Borders I always feel at home in Scotland. Our family has connections in Bellshill and my grandmother is buried on Scottish soil. So for me this is a homecoming.

I feel a strong regional identity as an Ulster Scot. I was relatively untouched when England came home from the World Cup, but I would have been more animated had Scotland or Northern Ireland been there. My strong sense of identity rests within the context of being British and being an integral part of the nation. In the Scottish context it is interesting to note the findings of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey which highlighted that the SNP is losing support, with more than half of those who vote for independence questioning the competence of their SNP representation. This is good news for the Union. It is entirely possible to be patriotically Scottish and also part of the Union.

We want to see Scotland remain part of the Union, but if Alex Salmond did manage to win independence, then we are ready with a campaign to call back the Stone of Destiny. Alex Salmond will no doubt be aware that it first came from County Antrim with the earliest of Scots, so it is only really on loan. It’s only in Scotland because we’re all part of the Union.

The Stone of Destiny alludes to the great history which exists between our two areas. King Fergus of Dalriada crossed from Dunseverick in the 6th century to be crowned ruler of a joint kingdom which straddled the North Channel. It eventually became separated, but the kinship has never ended. In medieval times the MacDonnells of the Isles brought a new dimension to the Glens of Antrim. In the early 17th century new settlers from Scotland arrived on the coasts of Antrim and Down, and they gave birth to communities such as my own in Ballycarry, which recently celebrated its 400th anniversary. In the 17th and 18th century many young men travelled from Ulster to Glasgow to be educated. In the 1630s the Presbyterians of Killinchy sailed across to Portpatrick to have their children baptized by Rev. John Livingstone.

Recently I was given documentation relating to Bro. Samuel Milligan, a Larne Orangeman who was working in the Dumbarton shipyards in 1874 and until 1920 worked in Scotland. Even when he came back to Larne to live and work, family connections remained in Glasgow. The story of Samuel Milligan is not unique. In 2008 when I had the privilege of addressing the County of the East demonstration, I learned that shale miners from around Ballymena had moved to Broxburn in search of work, bringing with them their Orange identity. In my own parish records for 1838, I find four labourers who emigrated to Glasgow and six men who migrated annually from Templecorran to Glasgow in search of work.

This is not to even consider the more extensive links which exist and which we have as a legacy today. In the 18th century our community was very aware of the great bard Robert Burns. We produced our own School of Weaver Poets, of which James Orr of Ballycarry was the best. Several of the Weaver Poets made the journey to Alloway to meet Burns. Orr never did, but he wrote an elegy on his death;

Sad news! He’s gane, wha baith amus’d
The man o’ taste, an’ taught the rude;
Whase warks hae been mair read an’ roos’d
Than onie, save the word o’ Gude
Him genus fostered on her lap
An’ for his fa’ fand fancy mourns:
Dumfries might weel steek ev’ry shap,
An’ sen’ her tribes to bury Burns
The links that exist between our two areas are really too many to mention. They deserve our recognition. They are a wonderful legacy handed down as a heritage for us all. We must ensure that this legacy is also handed down to new generations. It is worthy not only of handing down but also of adding to.

Links between Scotland and Ulster should be a priority for the governments in Edinburgh and Belfast. Resources should be made available to develop east-west links.

 The Belfast Agreement of 1998 and the subsequent St. Andrew’s Agreement promised east-west links. Yet these have not been developed. In recent meetings with the Minister of Culture in Northern Ireland and with the equivalent Minister in the Republic of Ireland it was clear that there is a willingness to see such links fostered

The question we as Ulster Scots must ask is why there has not been the willingness to develop those links in the years since 1998. Are there civil servants with a vested interest in not developing these links? Is there lack of vision in encouraging those willing to develop the links?

The one thing that everyone should be very clear about is that throughout our history the Ulster Scots people have had no time for duplicity. If the Belfast Agreement was sold to us on the basis that there would be east-west links and these were deliberately never developed then we will rightly want to know why and who is responsible

It is clear that the body established by the British and Irish governments to encourage the development of Ulster Scots feels that it has no remit to develop east-west links

The Ulster Scots Agency may be technically right in this, and we need to see how the hopes of groups such as my own community group in Ballycarry, County Antrim, were dashed over the years when we wanted assistance to develop links with a community in Scotland

Ironically, we are developing links with Mid Argyll in Scotland, where funding from the Gaelic language bodies is easier to obtain for east-west links than funding from any other organisation

This is not merely academic. The Ulster Scots community is in my view becoming increasingly alienated from the political process. It was given promises which have proved empty words up to now. It is no wonder that so many people from Ulster Scots heartlands do not vote at elections anymore; almost 50% in the case of East Antrim, 42% in North Antrim and 55% in North Down, for example. People are disillusioned because they believe that they were duped over the Belfast Agreement and the promises they expected to be followed through were broken. Unless there is some evidence of issues such as east-west links being addressed, then this sense of dislocation from political life will continue.

 Linking areas in Scotland and Northern Ireland can have significant effects in terms of cultural tourism to both regions, as well as social and cultural benefits, business and economic links and other spin-offs. We should bear in mind the high percentage of Scottish tourists visiting Northern Ireland  and at this time of year there is a steady flow of visitors to both areas, courtesy of the Orange Order and its celebrations.

We are fed up being viewed as a culture which is best ignored, when our members and supporters, our bands and our community, boost the economy of Scotland and Northern Ireland through travel and participation in each other’s demonstrations and parades. Without us the hotel industry, the ferry companies, gift shops and others would be worse off. Businesses who engage with us know the potential. It is time everyone saw it, and appropriate recognition from the tourist boards on board parts of the island would be welcome

I believe the Orange Order was the most significant body in Scotland to be maintaining links at the present time, and that as an organisation with tens of thousands of members it has an interest in seeing official recognition and development of east-west links.

The news that the British Irish Council is at last – after 12 years – to have a permanent home is to be welcomed. This body has not been relevant to the grassroots Ulster Scots people but it can play a part by acknowledging the importance of this community and the potential which it presents. I think many of us as activists in our communities are willing to be patient on these matters, but the clock is ticking and has been since 1998

There now needs to be a strategic plan to develop links between Ulster and Scotland. In a recent meeting which our community group had with the Minister of Culture, Nelson McCausland MLA, we were greatly encouraged at his approach in terms of the need for strategic thinking on this important issue. We would like to see all politicians sign up to this proposition as evidence of the shared future which we would wish for people on these islands

We should remember the words of Robert Burns, and ensure that auld acquaintance is not forgotten, but ever brought to mind.

BELFAST ORANGEMAN SAYS INSTITUTION HAS BIG ROLE TO PLAY IN CULTURAL TOURISM.

Senior Belfast Orangeman, and Deputy Lord Mayor, William Humphrey says the Orange Order has a vital role to play in cultural tourism.

Councillor Humphrey was speaking at the launch of Orangefest at the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road – on Monday night, June 28, at 7.15pm.

Councillor Humphrey said:

“Orangefest at the Spectrum Centre is now in its second year and is funded by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland. It is an important addition to the main Boyne celebrations in Belfast and compliments them in every way.

“The Twelfth is the city’s largest event with more than 250,000 people taking part or watching.

“Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the Belfast economy and 50% of visitors are cultural tourists. It is a huge market worldwide and Orangeism is a significant part of our product.

“Under-funding for the Twelfth is an issue and greater resources must be provided to expand Orangefest and develop the product and maximise the visitor numbers.

“We hope that people will appreciate the significance of Orangeism. Diversity is an opportunity and strength. Tolerance and acceptance must be the norm in building a society in Northern Ireland at peace with itself.”

Orangefest at the Spectrum runs from June 28 to July 10 and this year will concentrate on  performance and musical concert events. Bready Pipe Band, Ballyclare Victoria and Ballyduff Silver will carry the headline band concerts. Risin Stour and the Ulser Scots Experience feature in cultural concerts.

Backing this up will be recitals from the UVF Regimental Band (East Belfast), the Shankill Road Defenders, the Pride of the Raven and Blue Star Accordion. There will also be drama, highland dancing and workshops on tartans and drum making.

05 July 2010

Boyne Memorial Service


Sunday 11th July 2010

Boyne Memorial Service

St Michael's Parish Church

Meeting at Hopewell Avenue at 2.20 p.m.

04 July 2010

SPEECH BY DISTRICT MASTER DARRYL HEWITT AT DRUMCREE

On behalf of Portadown District LOL No 1 I would like to thank each and every one of you for your attendance at our Annual Church Service and Parade to Drumcree Parish Church.

Once again we find ourselves standing in front of this barrier preventing us from completing our traditional route from Drumcree Parish Church back to our starting point in Carleton Street.

As you are all aware this part of our Parade and Church Service has not been completed since July 1998.  However, I must inform you that it is not without the District Officers of this fine District putting in a lot of effort and time seeking a resolution to the impasse.  We will not be walking away from this place and I can assure you that we will continue to work hard to achieve what we desire.

Also to the Officers and Brethren of Portadown District can I, on behalf of the District Officers, thank you for your continued support and help over the years.

We attempt to complete our parade each and every Sunday – a fact that most people in Northern Ireland are not aware of – and there is a presence on the Hill every night.
This has been the case since July 1998 when our late District Master Wor Bro Harold Gracey said that we would remain on protest until our rights have been restored.

 Our resolve has not diminished over the weeks and months – no one should be in any doubt – Portadown District are in this for the long haul – we will not be deflected from seeking to achieve our objective.

One must ask the question “Why are still here this year?”  After all the Chair of the Parades Commission stood at this place last Drumcree Sunday and stated that she would have the situation resolved by December.


 We have met the Chair on at least three occasions this past year and in the end she admitted that they were not prepared to initiate any sanctions against the GRRC for their prevarication.  Not only that but the Parades Commission have allowed the GRRC to introduce a pre-condition to mediation, namely that we must withdraw Obins Street from our outward route.

You can imagine the outcry – from both the Parades Commission and the public – if we tried to introduce a pre-condition to mediation.

The spokesperson of the GRRC even attended the Parades Commission meeting last Wednesday – I am sure he was not even asked about the illegal parades he and his fellow travellers have taken part in overt he past 18 months.  How can the Parades Commission listen to any comments from a man who is on public record as saying that he will never apply to a British quango for permission to walk his streets?

 The sooner the Parades Commission is dissolved the better – tomorrow would do!

It will be interesting to see what comes of the new arrangements for Parading in Northern Ireland.  Portadown District is still reserving judgment on the new arrangements.  When the new body comes into being you can be sure that the first issue to be dealt with is our parade from this place back to Carleton Street, whether that be in January 2011 or any Sunday between that and Drumcree Sunday 2011.

What about the Police?  At a recent meeting with Senior Police officers in the area we were informed that if we did not submit an 11/1 for this parade then we would be arrested.  Why has no one been spoken to regarding illegal parades that take place around Northern Ireland.

The stock answer is that the parade took place in a different command area of the Police, but we ask the question “Has anyone been arrested for taking part in the illegal parade on Easter Sunday this year in Armagh?”  Of course not!

 It seems to be that there is one law for the Nationalist/Republican community and another for the Unionist community.  Surely this situation cannot and must not continue.  Our politicians must see that the current situation is untenable and they must highlight the inherent inequalities at every available opportunity.








Speaking of politicians we should offer our congratulations to Bro S Anderson who is taking over from Wor Bro D Simpson as an MLA for the area.  We offer Sidney our best wishes and look forward to working with him in as close a manner as we have, and - I am sure – will continue to do so with David.

As you are aware the notification for this Parade was only made last Sunday. Portadown District thought long and hard about whether to submit a form or not.  The reasons we did so are already in the public domain and do not need rehearsed again.

 Our basic instincts are to be a law-abiding people, but the authorities must realise that they can only push people so far or people will resent what is happening to them and turn people into law breakers. That would serve no purpose and it is not what we want.

We must never forget those people who keep the protest going on the Hill night by night throughout the year.  To Arlene, David and to all the others a sincere thanks is due from Portadown District.  There have been incidents on the Hill over the past years, but the resolve of those who maintain the protest has not diminished – in fact there is not a night goes past when the teapot is not on!   Make sure that before you leave today you visit the hillside cafĂ© and avail of the food on offer.

According to the determination we are to leave this place by 2.30pm today.  However, on behalf of myself and the District Officers, may I request that you remain with us here as we do not intend leaving by the time an unelected quango has told us to leave by.