Orange Order needs to change with the times, says Rev Mervyn Gibson
Senior Orangeman the Rev Mervyn Gibson yesterday urged the Order to change with the times in order to meet challenges it faces today.
Speaking at the demonstration in Newcastle, the grand secretary said the institution needs to be "fit for purpose in this and future generations".
He said: "The world in which the Orange Institution exists today is different from the world our forefathers lived in when they formed this Institution in 1795.
"It's different from the Ireland of 1912 our grandparents lived in when they signed the Ulster Covenant. It's different to the Northern Ireland we knew growing up prior to the Troubles in 1969.
"The political reality of this country today would have been unthinkable 30 years ago. But we are where we are. We live and work in the world today; not yesterday, our future starts from here."
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Rev Gibson called it "futile to use strategies and tactics we once used in another time to deal with the difficulties and opposition we face today".
He added: "The Orange Institution needs to be an organisation that is fit for purpose in this and future generations - fit to defend and promote all we hold dear. Our faith; our heritage, and our British citizenship.
"For too long we allowed others to set the agenda and we responded - and there were good reasons for our response.
"However, the time is right to accept the challenges that change has brought about, it's not change that we necessarily like, but it's where we are. We have to deal with realities and not how we would like it to be."
Rev Gibson revealed that he had breakfast before the parade with Irish Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin and said there was "a great opportunity to promote the Institution as a tourist asset".
He said: "Such actions do not diminish our place in society, nor what we believe, but create opportunities that allow us to share who we are and articulate the economic benefits of what we do. Only this morning I had breakfast with the Republic's Minister for Tourism and we spoke of the common cause we have of promoting the Boyne and other sites for the tourist market.
"When people visit the Boyne they will learn of William's victory, they will hear of the Glorious Revolution and all the freedoms that flowed from that. They will be informed of what the Orange Institution is and what we stand for."
Meanwhile, the leader of the Orange Order in Scotland slammed the "silly fuss" over Arlene Foster addressing a parade in Fife last month.
Scottish grand master Jim McHarg, addressing the July 12 parade in Belfast, said Mrs Foster received a "rapturous response".
A number of Scottish politicians questioned the DUP leader's attendance at the event.
"No doubt you will have heard about the silly fuss made over the attendance of Arlene Foster at the Cowdenbeath parade," he said.
"In fact, she was the principal speaker, something that seemed to annoy several of our Scottish politicians.
"I'm afraid that some of their comments only confirmed what we already knew - too many of them are ignorant and prejudiced in their view of the Order."