THE County Grand Master of the Orange Lodge in Fermanagh, Stuart Brooker told members attending this year’s annual ‘Twelfth’ celebration in Irvinestown that these were ‘good times’ for Orangeism, particularly in Fermanagh.
He pointed to a renewed enthusiasm among the 10,000-strong membership.
He went on: “I look forward to my term as County Grand Master.
“There is much hard work to be continued, but I have a strong team of officers and I look forward to their ongoing support.”
An estimated 15,000 people attended, making it one of the biggest Twelfths Fermanagh has experienced. There were lodges from across the border and from Scotland, as well as 70 bands.
The guest speaker was the author and newspaper columnist, Ruth Dudley-Edwards.
Mr Brooker referred to her book on the Orange Order, ‘The Faithful Tribe’, published 15 years a ago, and its reference to organised opposition to parades, leading to violent confrontations’, and how, ‘almost all outsiders blame the loyal institutions for intransigence and insensitivity in marching where they are not wanted’.”
He went on: “What I would say today is that, during the last few years, we have reached out to the nationalist community as never before. We have done so in a spirit of openness and goodwill.
“We can see that in the success of the Twelfth in Irvinestown today and resulting from the response and cooperation that the brethren here have experienced from the local community in the run-up.”
Mr Brooker added: “It’s a pity that we don’t see that same tolerance and respect reciprocated by others further afield.”
Here, he was referring to 16 ‘rural’ venues and several routes in Belfast where the Parades Commission have placed restrictions on parading.
To that end, those attending the Irvinestown ‘Twelfth’ observed a six-minute silent protest, during which Mr Brooker read out a statement on behalf of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland lambasting the Commission and calling for its termination.
Meanwhile, Tom Elliott, a past County Grand Master, told the Herald that ‘great relationships’ in Irvinestown proved to be a great assistance.
“It may seem strange for someone like Ruth Dudley-Edwards to have an interest in the Orange Order, but, we are pleased to have people who give an outside perspective and viewpoint to what we are doing.”
Mr Elliott said he was aware of some delays approaching the ‘white gates’ into Necarne.
“I think the greatest delay may have been due to the police speaking to every vehicle driver using that road to establish where they were going and advise them of the proper direction to take.”
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