Northern Ireland news

Orange Order offers to meet Michaela McAreavey family

Rev Mervyn Gibson has said the Orange Order has offered to meet the family of Michaela McAreavey

THE Orange Order has offered to meet the family of murdered Co Tyrone woman Michaela McAreavey.

The offer comes days after it was urged to do more to show its “disgust and repulsion” over a song mocking the murder of the young woman.

Shocking footage mocking her 2011 murder in Mauritius was captured on the same day Orangemen gathered in Belfast for a parade to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland in 1921.

Three men have since resigned from the order after they were identified in the clip, which was posted online.

Earlier this month SDLP assembly member Justin McNulty encouraged the order to make a donation to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which brings home the remains of people who die abroad, as a mark of its sincerity.

Grand Secretary Reverend Mervyn Gibson is now reported as saying the order has offered to meet relatives.

“We have made offers to talk to them if they wish, but they have not replied yet,” he told the Sunday Independent.

“I'm careful about saying that. It sounds as though we are doing things behind the scenes, but these types of things need to be done behind the scenes.

“I just don't want to do anything that adds another ounce of hurt to what they already suffered because of the loss of Michaela.”

Rev Gibson also claimed the footage had “nothing to do with Orange culture”. “(It) was not part of my culture, my Protestant culture, my unionist culture, my orange culture, my British culture,” he said.

“I hope people see the quick condemnation that came from the Orange Institution and the action being taken," he added.

"I haven't heard one person support that song. I didn't know such a song existed. It is horrible."

Rev Gibson said he understood how hurt Ms McAreavey family must feel.

“When I say our thoughts are with McAreavey family, that is heartfelt, that is genuine. I don't want to add any hurt to that by saying the wrong thing. I stand with them and stand with anybody who condemns that.

“It's just sick. On no level was that song right. I know how hurt the family must feel every day.”

The senior Orangeman said an internal investigation was “progressing”.

“I believe three people have resigned from the institution over it," he said.

"I know there are other people in the video. Any individual found to be involved in that will face sanctions from the institution."

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