Order remembers Orangemen murdered during Troubles with events across Northern Ireland
A series of commemorative events have taken place across Northern Ireland as the Orange Institution marks its inaugural victims' day.
The Loyal Order formally remembered the 335 Orangmen and one Orangewoman murdered by terrorists during the Troubles.
The day, which will become an annual event, also highlighted the ongoing plight of the injured and bereaved.
Leading various acts of remembrance was Grand Master Edward Stevenson, who laid a wreath and paid his respects at the Institution’s memorial window at Schomberg House in Belfast during a short religious service.
County, district and private lodges were encouraged to hold events in their areas to commemorate murdered members within their locality. Many Orange halls flew flags at half-mast.
Activities included remembrance parades in Portadown and Kilkeel; the launch of a garden of remembrance at Burnside Orange hall, Antrim; and a memorial event at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Loughgall.
Members of Tullyvallen lodge also held a short act of remembrance at their hall to coincide with the time of an IRA terror attack, 43 years ago.
In 1975, republican gunmen stormed into Tullyvallen Orange hall in rural South Armagh during a lodge meeting, and murdered four Orangemen. A fifth member subsequently died later as a result of the injuries sustained.
The majority of Orange victims were murdered whilst serving as members of the security forces.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson: “When I was elected Grand Master, I made a pledge the innocent victims of the Troubles and their families would remain a key priority for the Orange Institution. Our designated victims’ day is another public demonstration of that promise.
“As an organisation which suffered immeasurably during the Troubles, with our deceased members amounting to approximately one in 10 of all those who were killed; this yearly initiative will serve as a constant reminder of the loss experienced by Orangeism during the terrorist campaign.”
He added: “Cemeteries across this Province bear testimony to the sacrifice paid by so many people and in particular our members. More than half of them were singled out by republicans because they were serving this community in the security forces. Others were targeted because they were Protestant and members of the Orange Order. They must never be forgotten.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital