Tuesday 25 September 2012

Ulster Scots should have independence vote - Orangeman

Flag of Scotland, St. Andrews Saltire

THE Orange Order's Director of Services has called on the Scottish government to allow Ulster Scots to vote in the referendum on the future of Scotland.

Dr David Hume was speaking at an event organised in Glasgow by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland to commemorate the centenary of the Ulster Covenant.

He said that Ulster Scots had provided the first unifying factor in Scottish history in the 6th century and helped develop Scottish interests in Ireland and elsewhere from the 17th century.

"We are stakeholders as well. Surely a decision such as this should not ignore our input?" he said.

The Director of Services recalled the strong support for Ulster Unionism a century ago in Scotland, where thousands of Ulster exiles signed at locations including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Troon, Ayrshire and elsewhere.

"A century on, the constitutional future is clearer now. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland will not change without the consent of the people. But the Union that was so dear to the hearts of 471,414 men and women in 1912 is under threat in other ways,” he said.

“In 1912 Scots unionists watched anxiously for Ulster and in 2014 Ulster will watch anxiously for you as nationalists seek to win a referendum which would alter totally the constitution of our nation. A union without Scotland would be a poorer place."

"It would be our hope that the Scottish people remain with us and remain within the Union. Victory is not assured. No one should believe that. But you can be assured that we are with those who stand by the Union and we will not forsake you as your forefathers did not forsake us.

“Many of them were not born in Ulster so they could not sign the Covenant. But they held it in their hearts. We will not forget you for that and the continuing support you give to us."

Dr Hume continued: "It is a great privilege to be Scottish. But we should not mix up patriotism with nationalism. In 2014 there will be attempts to sell the two as one product. But people should not be confused. It is natural to be Scottish and support the Union. Within the Union there is cultural difference, and other differences too; that is the great value of the Union. It is a value which binds us together under common structures and ethos."

He added: "When the referendum comes in 2014 the SNP want to extend the vote to those who are 16 years of age and, presumably, more likely to vote as directed by the SNP. I would call on them to extend the referendum to the Ulster Scots. After all, we provided the first unifying force in Scotland in the 6th century AD and we later extended Scottish influence to Ireland in the 17th century. We are stakeholders as well. Surely a decision such as this should not ignore our input?"

Monday 24 September 2012

Centenary of the Ulster Covenant Parade - Donegall Street - GRAND ORANGE LODGE STATEMENT

THERE has been much dishonest and misleading information concerning the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland parade, which will be held in Belfast on Saturday 29 September to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant and the issue of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Chapel, Donegall Street.  The Grand Lodge wishes to clear up any ambiguity and address some of the comments that are taken as fact and going unchallenged.

The only leg of the parade that will be passing St Patrick’s Chapel will be the Grand Lodge officers, their guests and the five districts attached to Belfast Orange Hall, Clifton Street, accompanied by 14 bands. The entire parade will not be passing St Patrick's.

The focal point of the recent concern has always been St Patrick’s Chapel. It was there that the incident occurred on the 12th July, a Parades Commission determination to ban music on the ‘Last Saturday’ was imposed and it was opposite the chapel that the protestors stood. The banner carried by the protestors stated ‘Respect St Patrick’s Church'; ‘respect’ became the mantra of all and crystallised the issue.

It was therefore in response to a call by Fr Michael Sheehan for quiet conversations away from the public glare that the Grand Lodge entered into direct dialogue with the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s concerning the issue of respect. All involved in the conversations were clear what the issue was - respect for St Patrick's Chapel.

These conversations addressed the heart of the matter and Grand Lodge made it clear that they would not be entering into negotiations with the Residents Group as the issue was focused on St Patrick’s and the parishioners. While Fr Sheehan thought it may be useful to talk to the Residents Group, the conversations proceeded on this understanding.

The Grand Lodge made no pre conditions regarding who would be present during these conversations nor the numbers involved, that was down to which parishioners were invited by the clergy. We appreciated Fr Sheehan’s openness and frankness during our conversations and he advised that the Chair of Carrick Hill Residents Group had been invited twice to attend, but refused.

Fr Sheehan also made it very clear that he could not speak for the Residents Group, no more than they could speak for the Church. This assured us that by speaking to him and the parishioners we were engaging with those who had the authority to speak on behalf of St Patrick's Chapel. Grand Lodge took part in the conversations as did representatives from Belfast County Grand Orange Lodge, local district Orange Lodges, bands and the local community.

All present agreed that the conversations were worthwhile and meaningful. The issue of what respect looked like was widely discussed. There was a broad consensus that silence or a single drum beat added a menacing tension to parades. Fr Sheehan helpfully stated that he would openly welcome the playing of hymns as bands passed the chapel, if that was to be our decision. He added that this would be his position no matter what others called for.

Following wide consultation within the Unionist family the Grand Lodge issued a statement that on this occasion only hymns would be played as the parade passed St Patrick's on 29 September as a mark of respect. We thank all those involved in the quiet conversations and as stated publicly we are happy for those to continue.

We look forward to a response from the Bishop, Clergy and parishioners to the invitation to visit Schomberg House as we seek to build mutual understanding.

We thank all within the Unionist family for their support and encouragement in this matter as we look forward to a great day of celebration on 29 September when we will commemorate the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

Ulster Covenant Centenary Parade

Upcoming Special Parade

Ulster Covenant Centenary Parade
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Assemble at Hopewell Avenue @ 9:30 am for 10:00 am parade.

Thursday 20 September 2012


THE historic grounds of Stormont will provide the setting for an
Ulster Covenant celebration and family fun day on Saturday, September 29.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the east Belfast event, which will also cater for a major Loyal Order parade to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

The parade – organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland – is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations witnessed in Northern Ireland in recent times.

The procession is scheduled to leave from Belfast City Hall - venue for the most famous Covenant signing in 1912 – at 11am before participants parade the six-mile route to the Stormont estate.

While the parade will likely dominate interest on the day, a wide variation of music, children’s entertainments, exhibitions and stalls will also be provided to cater for the large crowds at Stormont from 10am.

Those in attendance will be entertained by notable performers including Lambeg drummers, Grallagh Unionist Flute Band, County Antrim Fife and Drum, Bright Light Highland Dancers, Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra and The Thompson Brothers.

A food village, face painting and balloon modelling, historical memorabilia and Loyal Order displays will also be available to members of the public.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has chosen the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice as its charity partner for the occasion.

From the starting point of the City Hall, the parade will move off and proceed by Donegall Square North, Chichester Street, Victoria Street, Albert Square, Donegall Quay, Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Middlepath Street, Newtownards Road, Upper Newtownards Road, Prince of Wales Avenue (Stormont Estate) to the rally point at Carson’s statue.

The parade will also pass a review stand – holding members of the Loyal Orders who participated in the Ulster Covenant 50th anniversary commemorations in 1962 – at the main gates to Parliament Buildings.

When the entire parade – incorporating up to 200 marching bands from across the Province - has congregated at Stormont, an open air service of thanksgiving will be held. 

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, will also address assembled Loyal Order members and supporters. 

It is anticipated that the platform proceedings will commence at 3pm.

Prior to the main procession, the majority of districts representing Belfast County Lodge will form up – as on the annual Twelfth parade – at Carlisle Circus. Other
districts will make their way to the City Hall from both south and east Belfast.

County Grand Lodges representing Antrim, Armagh, City of Londonderry, Londonderry, Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan will form up at designated points along Sandy Row before parading to the city centre.

Representatives from the Royal Black Institution, Apprentice Boys and Independent Orange Order will also participate in the parade.

Members of the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland will join the main procession at the Knock traffic lights. However, sisters are encouraged to parade with their own districts, if desired.

A return parade to the city centre – following the religious service - will only involve members of Belfast County Grand Lodge.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland have urged - due to the large numbers in attendance - for all parade participants and spectators to heed the instructions of marshals on the day.

Speaking ahead of the Covenant parade, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson said: “We expect the event on September 29 to be an occasion to remember and one worthy of the centenary.

“In our view, the Covenant anniversary will be about commemorating our forefathers and their belief in common values enshrined in the Union. We look forward to coming together as a community to do so.”

Dr David Hume, Director of Services for the Orange Order, said: “This will be a major event and a family day for enjoyment and celebration. We also know that city hotels are benefiting from those attending the parade and flights into the Province have also booked up.”

He added: “We have a full programme of activities at Stormont so families of brethren and the general public can enjoy the entertainment and children’s activities prior to the arrival of the parade.”

Monday 17 September 2012


Royal York Loyal Orange Lodge walking past Belfast (St. Annes) Cathedral.

THE Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland look forward to the parade on Saturday 29 September to celebrate the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, an event that saw the Unionist family united and determined. 

Sadly there has been an unhealthy focus on the parade at a point were no previous contention existed - St Patrick's Roman Catholic Chapel in Donegall Street. Occurrences at St Patrick's on the 12th July and the 'Last Saturday’ have already been the subject of statements clarifying that for any inadvertent offence caused, no hurt was intended.

The apologies offered have been graciously accepted by the Clergy in St Patrick’s as genuine.

Additionally, quiet, frank and constructive conversations have taken place with the clergy and parishioners, as the Institution sought; to defuse tensions around the forthcoming Covenant parade, and build relationships by listening to views raised and explaining our position in respect of parading, music and the Parades Commission.

Indeed, the Grand Lodge has an outreach programme that visits Catholic Maintained Schools regularly to share information about our culture and history. In furtherance of this outreach we invite Bishop Treanor, the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick's to visit the Covenant exhibition at Schomberg House as our guests. It is hoped that the lines of communication opened by this opportunity will be maintained and developed in the months ahead.

In a respectful and sincere effort to address what we heard and following further conversations with local districts, bands, community representatives, political leaders and locally elected representatives, the Ulster Covenant centenary parade on 29 September when passing St Patrick's, which will be open; will play hymns. The return parade in the early evening will show similar respect.

The Orange Institution is committed to civil and religious liberty for all and developing a programme of mutual understanding that begins to rebuild Christian neighbourliness and a return to normality. All we seek is acceptance and respect for our traditions; we will not deny others what we ourselves desire.

Friday 7 September 2012

A Statement from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

THE Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland notes the continuing public interest concerning the forthcoming Ulster Covenant centenary celebrations, which culminate in a major Loyal Order parade that will take place in Belfast on Saturday 29 September.

This landmark occasion allows a unique opportunity to commemorate one of the most momentous and cultural events in the history of these islands, and as we move into a period involving a number of significant centenaries it is essential that we celebrate our different cultures in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect.

The Orange Institution is engaging in quiet conversations, which are taking place – away from the public gaze - to address issues that have arisen in relation to peaceful protests against the Parades Commission. We are genuinely committed in finding a just and equitable resolution to these matters.

The recent open letter from the Royal Black Institution has already served to defuse tensions and the Grand Orange Lodge fully supports the sentiments expressed.

Despite the best efforts of the discredited and unaccountable Parades Commission – to stifle our proud heritage, the Orange Institution prayerfully looks forward to a peaceful day for all of Northern Ireland, as the Unionist family celebrates this milestone in their history.

Monday 3 September 2012


THE Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has chosen the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice as its charity partner for a major event later this month to mark the centenary of the Ulster Covenant. 

Thousands of people are expected to converge on the Stormont estate on Saturday September 29, when the east Belfast venue provides the setting for the culmination of a Loyal Order parade and family fun day.

The procession – which will commence from Belfast city centre at 11am – is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations witnessed in Northern Ireland in recent times.

In supporting the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, the Grand Orange Lodge hopes to raise money for local children and families who depend on hospice services. The charity provides specialist care to children and young people with life limiting conditions.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said that the Institution wished to leave a “lasting legacy” to the local community as well as commemorating a formative event in the history of the British Isles.

He said:
“Donations by members of the Loyal Orders, their families and supporters at our Ulster Covenant celebrations will make a real difference to young children with life limiting illnesses and their loved ones.
“The Children’s Hospice receives limited government funding and relies heavily on voluntary donations to fund their vital services each year.” 
He continued:
“If each lodge were able to raise just £100 through a collection or a fundraising event ahead of the celebrations, we could raise enough money to fund four Children’s Hospice Community Nurses for an entire year.
“I would therefore urge everyone to give a personal donation to the designated charity collectors on the day or support the Children’s Hospice stand at Stormont.”
 Director of Income Generation with the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, Siofra Healy, said:
“Every pound raised from this event will be used to fund community nurses who provide specialist care to children and young people in their own home.
“As a regional service, we offer care in hospice and in the family home. We rely heavily on public donations to fund our service so we are delighted to be the nominated charity for this community event.”

To make an immediate donation to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, please text the word GIVE followed by £1.50, £3, £5 or £10 to 70444.

The text service costs your chosen donation amount, plus network charge. Northern Ireland Hospice receives 100 per cent of your donation. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 0844 847 9800. Charity No XN45696.