The handshake between Martin McGuinness and the Queen was a “humiliating surrender” for Sinn Fein — and an admission the IRA’s campaign “had been for nothing”, Orange Order members and their supporters have been told.
Scottish grand master Ian Wilson admitted the “bile was in his throat” when he saw the history-making gesture at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast last month.
Yet the sight of the Queen greeting the man “who was once a commander in the terror gang who murdered her cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten” was “a humiliating surrender by Sinn Fein” he argued.
“It was a public admission that all the years of murder and mayhem had been for nothing. That handshake was acknowledgement by Mr McGuinness of the Queen’s jurisdiction in Northern Ireland.
“Despite all that he and his murderous associates had thrown at you, Northern Ireland remains as much part of the United Kingdom today as when the Queen acceded to the throne in 1952,” he told the parade in Broughshane.
The speech came as Orange members taking part in the main Belfast demonstration waited at their field at Barnett’s Demesne in south Belfast until they were assured a token march by three lodges at the controversial Ardoyne flashpoint had got through to Ligoniel.
Belfast County Lodge said the Parades Commission ruling that the return parade had to be completed by 4pm, three hours earlier than usual, was designed “to stop forever Orange feet on a shared main arterial route, the Crumlin Road, and to set a trap that would see the Orange Institution blamed for any violence that ensued”.
County grand master Tom Haire said: “To the Parades Commission let me say you have failed and you have failed miserably. Tomorrow begins our renewed and re-energised campaign to see the Parades Commission confined to history.”
Meanwhile, at the Ballynahinch parade, deputy grand master Rev Alistair Smyth also referred to the historic handshake.
“However well publicised or photographed, a handshake does not wipe away the tears or bring back those loved ones who were murdered. Nor does it indicate either remorse or repentance of the past of those who perpetrated such vile deeds,” he told the audience at the platform.
In the day’s keynote address, grand master Edward Stevenson said the Order is locked in a cultural battle with republicans who are attempting to rewrite history, but will fail.
Mr Stevenson claimed Protestants have come out of recent years as a stronger, more confident community.
Speaking in Castlederg, he said: “At the moment republicans are trying their best to rewrite history. They are using all their powers to make it look as their campaign of murder was somehow justified... they will not suceed. The Orange Institution will not allow the perpetrators of violence to become the victims.”
Mr Stevenson, who heads up the ruling Grand Lodge, went on: “We are now in a cultural battleground as republicans attack our traditions, our parades and everything we hold dear. And they want to change the way history records the evil that they carried out.”
Meanwhile, grand secretary Drew Nelson, who made history last month by addressing politicians in the Dublin Senate, said the Irish government must address the disparity in passports policy north and south.
Speaking in Tobermore, he said: “Anyone born in Northern Ireland can apply for and will be granted an Irish passport, however people from a British background who were left on the southern side of the border in 1921 do not have the same reciprocal right to a British passport.
“If the relationships between the peoples of these Islands are to be normalised, then this is an issue which must be addressed.”
What Orangemen talked about
“Tomorrow begins our renewed and re-energised campaign to see the Parades Commission confined to history.”
Belfast county grand master Tom Haire, Broughshane
The handshake between the Queen and Martin McGuinness was “a humiliating surrender by Sinn Fein” and “public admission that all the years of murder and mayhem had been for nothing”.
Scottish grand master Ian Wilson, Castlederg
“There must be no comparison between the victims and the perpetrators. They come from different sides of the law.”
Edward Stevenson, grand master.
“A handshake does not wipe away the tears or bring back those loved ones who were murdered.”
Alistair Smyth, deputy grand master
“When Her Majesty crossed the road and was warmly received by the members of the Roman Catholic community it was a sign of how far we have come, a sign of peace and reconciliation, a sign of hope for the future.”
Grand chaplain, the Rev Stanley Gamble, Tobermore
“Anyone born in Northern Ireland can apply for and will be granted an Irish Passport. (But) people from a British background on the southern side of the border do not have the same reciprocal right.”
Grand secretary Drew Nelson, Crumlin
“A century on (from the Ulster Covenant), our civil and religious freedom is still being threatened.”
John Morrow (left), grand master of the Grand Lodge of Australia.