THE statement by the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, condemning the Orange Order in the same vein as a paramilitary organisation, is absolutely disgraceful (News, January 17).
The Orange Order is a religious organisation, based on the principals and beliefs of the Holy Bible and it stands for religious liberty for all.
It is an organisation that interacts and works closely with community groups and helps elderly groups. It has a growth section and works along with youth groups and is held in the highest esteem. It deserves credit for all the excellent work that it is a part of; it does not deserve ridicule from Martin McGuinness.
The Orange Order is proud of its history; the battle of the Boyne and the battle of the Diamond. It has a Protestant background, where the teachings are clear and it depends on the religious and democratic rights of its members.
Never has it and it does not now have any involvement with any paramilitary groups and the deputy First Minister owes a sincere apology to the Orange Order and its members for this scandalous slur.
It certainly put a major question mark over the suitability of the deputy First Minister to do his job impartially.
Be proud of the work that the Orange Order and its members have done and continue to do and don't let dishonest and disgusting statements take away from all of us who proudly wear the collaret.
JIM SHANNON (DUP)
MP for Strangford