Orange Order says it has made no demands of the DUP - The Irish News
General Election

Orange Order says it has made no demands of the DUP

Orange Order grand chaplain Mervyn Gibson. Picture by Matt Bohill

THE Orange Order has said it has made "no demands" to the DUP as it negotiates a deal to prop up Theresa May's government.

The order was part of efforts to increase unionist voter registration before the general election, which contributed to a high turnout in many constituencies.

In South Belfast, where Emma Little Pengelly snatched the seat from the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell, turnout was up to 66.3 per cent from just over 60 per cent two years ago.

Increased votes in loyalist areas went almost entirely to the DUP candidate, with Sandy Row seeing a 70 per cent turnout and a record figure of 67 per cent in the Taughmonagh estate.

The Ulster Political Research Group, the political wing of the UDA, controversially endorsed Ms Pengelly as a candidate and The Loyalist magazine urged unionists to get out and vote for her.

Speaking after her election, the group said: "Democracy in action. Voter turnout the key and a remarkable success."

It added: "The Loyalist magazine is a South Belfast UPRG publication. We have been unequivocal in our condemnation of criminality. We support rule of law".

Voter registration drives also took place in some Orange halls.

Orange Order grand chaplain Mervyn Gibson said the March assembly election, when the Sinn Féin vote surged, had been a "wake up call" for unionists.

He said last week's result was a "win for democracy" and would hopefully help create stability by giving "confidence to unionists" - but stressed that the order had not given the DUP a negotiating wish list.

"We've have made no demands. The DUP know what the people of Northern Ireland need and want, what we now need to do is give them some room to negotiate the best deal possible," he said.

"People came out and voted to protect the union, it was a country first election.

"We will now support them in negotiations, regarding Brexit and the economy".

The leading Orangeman said the high turnout was in part due to the March election when unionism lost its majority at Stormont for the first time.

"There was an active registration campaign by a number of groups. I think the last election was awake up call for unionists," he said.

"People got out and voted, unionism spoke, and I would say the winner in this election was democracy. People have seen their vote does count, but now the DUP need to deliver.

"The Orange Order have not made any demands - the politicians know what the people of Northern Ireland need, they're not stupid.

"We have repeatedly called for the scrapping of the Parades Commission and for it to be replaced with something open and transparent. That's not to say we'll always get our own way but at least a fair crack of the whip."

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