The leaders of the Loyal Orders came together in County Tyrone on Friday, 1st of September, 2023, to mark the sixth annual Orange Victims’ Day.
Representatives of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, the Royal Black Institution, The Apprentice Boys of Derry, The Junior Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, The Royal Arch Purple Chapter and the Independent Loyal Orange Institution took part in the ceremony hosted by The Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in St. Anne’s Parish Church, Dungannon.
During the service, which was conducted by Rev. Bryan Martin, Rector of Drumglass Parish. Grand Chaplain Sister Lilly Cornett read a portion of Scripture from Psalm 29.
The Act of Remembrance took place at the 8th Bn. UDR Memorial in the church grounds.
Members of the ALOI played a central role in the ceremony.
Sister Margaret Hill, of Tullylagan Pipe Band, piped while the wreaths were laid. Sister Helen Wilson played the Last Post, while Grand Treasurer Sister Anna Moffitt read the Exhortation.
Speaking after the service, Grand Mistress of the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, Sister Joan Beggs said: “It is an honour that the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland hosted the annual Orange Victims Day Remembrance Service.
“While we lost one member – Sister Heather Kerrigan - many of our Sisters lost close relatives and friends. We were delighted that Heather’s sister-in-law, Irene Kerrigan, could be with us.
“We continue to offer our help and support for all those seeking justice for their lost loved ones.”
Grand Master Edward Stevenson said Victims’ Day continued to be one of “remembrance and reflection” for the Orange family, while aspiring to give “hope for the future” for those left bereaved and injured.
He also took the opportunity to emphasise the commitment of the Orange Institution to continuing to lobby at every available opportunity on behalf of innocent victims.
“The Orange Institution is constant in its commitment to giving our full support to the innocent victims and over the past 12 months we have continued to engage and work with those in the victims sector to ensure their voice is heard,” said Most. Wor. Bro. Stevenson.
“We are steadfastly committed to ensuring that the history of the needless and unjustified campaign of domestic terror waged on our Country is not re-written by those who wrought so much pain and destruction on our community.”
Following a similar format established over previous years, a meeting of the Loyal Order leaders was held after the Act of Remembrance.
Among the items discussed during the meeting were issues of importance to all the Loyal Orders, such as the Northern Ireland Protocol, parading and museums.
Since 2018, when the inaugural Orange Victims’ Day was held, this has been the date the Orange Institution formally remembers the 341 Orangemen and one Orangewoman murdered by terrorists during the Troubles.
The majority of Orange victims were murdered whilst serving as members of the security forces.
The day will also serve to highlight the ongoing plight of the injured and bereaved.
It is anticipated that a series of commemorative events will take place across Northern Ireland. County, district and private lodges will be holding small events in their areas which commemorate murdered members within their locality.
This year, the 1st of September is the 48th anniversary of the IRA attack on Tullyvallen Orange Hall, which claimed the lives of four Orangemen, with a fifth dying later as a result of his injuries.
The 1975 Tullyvallen Orange hall massacre in south Armagh was the largest loss of life inflicted on the Orange Family from a single incident during the terrorist campaign.