The Orange Order has purchased an order of PPE to distribute to healthcare workers battling coronavirus around the island of Ireland.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland described the consignment as “very significant” and said it included tens of thousands of masks and aprons and a large volume of hand sanitiser.
The institution said it would be divided among its 12 county grand lodges on the island for distribution through 108 district lodges.
The Orange Institution has purchased a shipment of PPE and will be distributing a significant amount of hand sanitiser, protective masks and aprons.— Orange Order (@OrangeOrder) April 20, 2020
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson said: “It is our hope that this shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) will make a real difference to local doctors and nurses, who are at the front line of helping to fight Covid-19, and those providing care and essential services in the community.
“So much has been reported about the pressure on PPE supplies that we felt it was appropriate that the Orange Institution should try to assist in a practical way.
“Once a supplier had been sourced, an order was placed, and we were delighted to see it arrive in Northern Ireland.
“This shipment of products, which includes masks, aprons and hand sanitiser, will be distributed as widely as possible by our membership, many of whom have already been very active themselves in raising money, sharing much-needed supplies and helping older people in their own communities.”
The Grand Lodge said some local lodges had already undertaken their own initiatives to secure PPE.
The Orange Order has cancelled its traditional Twelfth of July parades due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The abundance of good work being done by lodges and the wider Orange family for the good of the entire community illustrates that there is more to Orangeism than just our annual parades,” said Mr Stevenson.
“The current crisis has highlighted the charitable, benevolent and fraternal elements of the Order which, although always important, are often unseen.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all key workers who are working so hard to tackle this dreadful disease.
“It enormously heartening to see the support they are being shown each Thursday evening and I commend everyone who is clapping, playing instruments or doing anything to show their appreciation to the NHS and its staff.
“While we look forward to the days when we can get out and about again, it is most important that everyone continues to adhere to the Government guidelines in relation to staying at home and, if you must go out, respect the social distancing advice.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by Covid-19 and the health professionals as they work to tackle this awful virus.”