Orange Order tells Smith that Boris Johnson's Brexit deal is unacceptable
The Orange Order has slammed Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, claiming it would make Northern Ireland "a place apart".
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Following a meeting between senior Orange Order members and Secretary of State Julian Smith, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said the latest agreement was unacceptable and voiced concerns over "the prospect of greater influence from the Irish government on Northern Ireland's affairs".
The organisation said it was against any deal that could result in a border in the Irish Sea, "throwing into doubt Northern Ireland's status as an integral part of the UK".
A spokesman said: "The Orange Institution has been clear from the outset it fully respects the electoral mandate for Brexit and wishes to see its implementation, but only on a basis which fully respects the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
"We do not see that being possible in this latest agreement and made that point to the Secretary of State.
"It is clear this current agreement, with what amounts to a border in the Irish Sea, will make Northern Ireland a place apart. This is totally unacceptable."
The Order said the Prime Minister's proposal would leave Northern Ireland economically aligned with the Republic, adding: "There are very real concerns it would not end there."
"Our membership is drawn from all sections of the Protestant community and we are aware of the fears and concerns they hold when it comes to their future," the spokesman said.
"This is a crucial time and we would again call on all political representatives who share a commitment to the Union to come together and ensure Brexit is delivered, as is the wish of the electorate, and Northern Ireland stays an integral part of the UK."
A delegation of Order members including Grand Master Edward Stevenson, Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning and Grand Secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson, met the NI Secretary at Stormont House on Saturday.