Orange Order says it 'will not be found wanting when it comes to defending the Union'
THE ORANGE Order has said it "will not be found wanting when it comes to defending the union" as it called for an escalation of opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The loyal order has asked for meetings with the leaders of unionism's main parties "as a matter of urgency" and revealed plans for what it termed an "emergency meeting of the Grand Lodge" in the coming weeks to endorse any agreed action.
It said politics has "failed to rid us of this treacherous agreement", while protests have been "ignored".
"Peaceful, practical action is now required," the order said.
Yesterday's statement followed the British government's publication of its so-called command paper in which it sought to have the protocol, part of the international treaty agreed in December, re-negotiated.
The European Union has said it will will "be creative and flexible" but has rejected Boris Johnson's plea to re-negotiate the post-Brexit trade arrangements.
According to the Orange Order, every opportunity available has been used to voice its opposition to the protocol, including in meetings with the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, Brexit Minister Lord Frost and representatives of the European Commission.
It said its opposition to the trade border was shared "by unionism collectively" and that it had asked that issues related to the protocol be addressed by politics.
"To date, politics has failed to rid us of this treacherous agreement, protests and pleas for change have been ignored," the statement said.
The order rejected the British prime minister's assertion that the Irish Sea trade border did not represent a "growing separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK".
It said despite the principle of consent being enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, unionists were "being forced economically to re-orientate to the Republic of Ireland" and adhere to laws "made by foreign powers".
"Failing to recognise the reality of the problem by one who presents himself as a stanch supporter of the union is part of the problem," the statement said.
The order attacked both the EU and the politicians in the Republic, who it said showed "no capacity or willingness to recognise the concerns of unionists".
The DUP and Ulster Unionists said they would be engaging with the Orange Order in the coming days.