Edward Stevenson has been re-elected as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
The Co Tyrone farmer, who is 58, has held the post since taking over from Robert Saulters in January 2011.
At a meeting of the Order’s Grand Lodge in Eglinton, Co Londonderry yesterday, it was decided Mr Stevenson should continue in the role. He described his re-election as a “great honour”.
The Ardstraw man said: “It is deeply humbling and I am extremely proud to once again receive the confidence of the membership of the institution.”
Mr Stevenson also commented on the Haass talks process aimed at finding resolutions to traditionally contentious issues.
“We prayerfully look forward to the abolition of the discredited Parades Commission, and its replacement with a better regulatory system which is just, fair and equitable. Such an alternative must be based on the principles of non-discrimination, equality, transparency and good administration.”
Following the meeting, Grand Lodge also expressed concern at the jail sentence handed down to a loyalist bandsman who participated in last year’s Ulster Covenant centenary parade in Belfast.
“As the organiser of the parade, we feel the sentence imposed was excessively stringent, particularly given the nature of the offence – that of simply playing traditional music. With this in mind, the institution and its members await with interest the outcome of prosecutions – if indeed there are any – in relation to recent clear breaches of the law by senior Sinn Fein representatives. We trust those found guilty of much more serious crimes in the wider community will be dealt with in an equally rigorous manner.”
The Rev Alistair Smyth was re-elected Deputy Grand Master and Drew Nelson remains Grand Secretary.
See Morning View, page 18