Belfast Telegraph

Stevenson tipped for Orange post

Edward Stevenson is the favourite to take over as Grand Master of the Orange Order in Ireland.

Robert Saulters has announced he is to step down from the post after 14 years.

Mr Stevenson is currently Deputy Grand Master, County Grand Master of Tyrone and a long-standing member of the institution.

Senior Orangeman Drew Nelson said: "The decision will be taken in the second week in December by the 300 members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland."

Mr Saulters became Grand Master at the height of the Drumcree dispute in 1996.

Orangemen have been prevented from walking down the nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, Co Armagh, since 1998.

Mr Saulters headed an Orange delegation to meet Catholic Cardinal Sean Brady, the Irish Government and the SDLP, but he refused to meet Sinn Fein and the Parades Commission.

In July, the Orange Order rejected proposed legislation to deal with contentious parades.

The proposals contained in the Draft Public Assemblies Bill had been agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Under Mr Saulter's leadership the order severed its official link with the Ulster Unionist Party. However, he recently supported talks for unity between the Democratic Unionists and Ulster Unionists.

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