Orange Order leader speaks out against ‘relentless attacks'
THE leader of the Orange Order has spoken out against "relentless attacks" on its property.
Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, was addressing crowds in Limavady at the largest Twelfth parade in Co Derry.
He said "sickening attacks" on 15 Orange halls this year had included attempted arson, paint bombs, graffiti and flag thefts.
"I appeal to those involved in such reprehensible criminality to desist. You are doing a disservice not only to yourselves, but also the wider community who do not want to be associated with your blatant sectarianism," he said.
"Most nationalists have no truck with such attacks. Those who engage in such activity have nothing to offer our society."
Limavady was one of 18 main Twelfth demonstrations held across the north, with the Orange Order expecting more than 100,000 people to line the routes.
The largest parade was in Portadown where more than 150 lodges marched through the town.
Echoing speeches by other Orange leaders, they heard deputy grand master Harold Henning hit out at "ludicrous decisions" by the Parades Commission.
"The current legislation needs to be replaced with fair and equal laws, removing the republican veto," he said
The second ‘Flagship’ demonstration took place in Kilkeel, Co Down where 1,000 Orangemen from the Mournes, the largest district in Ireland, were on parade.
In Belfast a wreath-laying ceremony took place in the grounds of City Hall to remember those who died in the Somme 100 years ago, as well as other battles and the Troubles.
The six-mile route, the longest of all the parades, was attended by Orangemen and women representing nine districts and was accompanied by approximately 60 bands.
Tens of thousands of spectators lined the route as the procession made its way through the city centre to the 'field' at Barnetts Demesne.
The largest demonstration in Co Down took place in Dromore, with approximately 100 lodges and 80 bands involved and organisers estimating as many as 20,000 watching.
Coagh, one of Tyrone’s smallest villages, hosted its biggest parade with around 10,000 spectators joining upwards of 70 lodges and 50 bands.
In Maguiresbridge in Co Fermanagh southern members joined 90 lodges and around 70 bands.
There were also demonstrations in Lisburn, Ballymena, Donaghadee, Aughnacloy, Randalstown, Comber, Castledawson, Newtownstewart, Glenarm, Ahoghill and Ballycastle in celebration of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.