Q. How disappointing is it that the Twelfth celebrations across Northern Ireland have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
A. It is very disappointing that the Twelfth of July parades have had to be cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Twelfth day itself has not been cancelled as the Orange Institution will still celebrate the 330th anniversary of King William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne.
Q. Was it a difficult decision to call off the celebrations and when was the last time such a scenario occurred?
A. The decision to cancel the Twelfth of July parades was taken in April and announced by The Grand Master Edward Stevenson. It was not an easy decision but there is no doubt it was the right decision. Our parades attract huge numbers of spectators, we know that crowds have the potential to spread Covid-19 and we do not want to see that happening.
The last time parades were cancelled would have been during the war years, however there were also parades cancelled during the Spanish flu pandemic just over 100 years ago.
Q. What does the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland have planned as part of its Twelfth at Home initiative?
A. This year we have the Twelfth at Home celebrations and we have been encouraging people to celebrate the day online, in their home or at their door. This means decorating your house, holding barbecues or picnics and small garden celebrations with family. Over the weekend from July 10 to July 13, Radio Boyne will be broadcasting to keep people entertained and informed with music and interviews.
Q. Would you encourage all those who wish to celebrate the Twelfth to do so by complying with the coronavirus regulations?
A. Everyone should be following the coronavirus regulations and that includes those celebrating the Twelfth.
Q. Will the cancellation of this year's events have a knock on effect for towns or villages that were due to host the 2021 celebrations?
A. The year 2021 will be very special for us as we mark not only the 331st anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne but also Northern Ireland's centenary - a double celebration if ever there was one. Details of venues will be determined by each district but I'm sure everyone will want to mark the occasion in style.