Newly set-up Orange reform group meets

THE newly set-up Orange Reformation group held its first Information meeting in Ballymena on Friday.

A spokesman for the group, which aims to "put Protestantism back into Orangeism" said they were encouraged by the attendance, with people coming from every county but one.

Rev Stephen Dickinson said organisers were also very pleased at the number of young men who are showing interest and getting involved with Orange Reformation.

He said there were four speakers who dealt with the spiritual, political, cultural and social elements of the Orange Institution with the stress being put on the fact that the spiritual aspect was of supreme importance and all activities in the other areas of Orange life and work should be carried out in agreement with biblical principles.

Four initiatives were announced at the meeting and a badge has been produced for Brethren to wear on their collarettes in order to show their support for the group.

Mr Dickinson said: 'If we are going to be successful in putting Protestantism back into Orangeism then surely we must see to it that the Principal Officers are true Protestants, Christian men, strong in their faith with a testimony to give."

He said that if the Principle Officers were not Christians, they would be capable of "selling the faith for funding or political favours".

Rev David McCarthy has been appointed Prayer Secretary.

One of the initiatives is a campaign to reclaim the 12th of July called, 'Hands off our 12th'.

Rev Dickinson said that Orangefest was a scheme "connived" by Government and others to take the focus away from the central reason for the 12th which is a demonstration of Protestantism.

Mr Dickinson told the meeting: "We have lost the plot, this nonsense must be stopped and Orange Reformation intend to take on the challenge. The 12th of July is not for sale."

The group said it now intended to garner more support.

A spokesman said: "Arrangements are being made at the present time to go to Co Armagh and we look forward to taking our 'Roadshow' into every county of Northern Ireland in the coming days."