Orange Order set to pledge support for the Union flag and oppose gay marriage at this year’s Twelfth celebrations

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Orangemen and women will pledge their support for the flying of the Union Flag on public buildings and oppose gay marriage at 18 demonstrations across Northern Ireland on July 12.

Each Twelfth gathering is expected to support three resolutions on faith, loyalty and the state.

Reflecting on the disquiet felt by many at the decision of Belfast City Council to remove the Union Flag from City Hall on all but a few days each year, the third resolution (on the state) says “we support the display of the Union Flag on public buildings across the United Kingdom”, adding words of dismay at “attempts to undermine the Union and to dilute unionist identity at every opportunity”.

It further states: “We look forward to a shared future where the Union Flag will be respected by all and our culture will be respected and celebrated, free from prejudice, hatred and intolerance.”

This third resolution also recognises the formation of the Ulster Volunteers 100 years ago, saying “we give thanks to God that at a time of crisis, men and women were prepared to take a stand for civil and religious liberty”.

With reference to the gay marriage debate at Westminster, the resolution also states: “As an Institution we affirm the firm and unwavering Biblical and Christian understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, seek to uphold it and deplore all efforts to undermine it.”

The second resolution (on loyalty) congratulates the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. The first resolution (on faith) states how members of the Institution “give thanks to Almighty God for the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments”.

The flagship demonstration will take place in Londonderry, attended by Grand Master Edward Stevenson, as well as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of England, Ron Bather, and the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, Henry Dunbar. Other demonstrations will be held in Magherafelt, Newtownhamilton, Ballinamallard, Belfast, Castlecaulfield, Donemana, Augher, Bangor, Loughbrickland, Dundrum, Annalong, Ballymena, Magheragall, Carnlough, Ahoghill, Glengormley and Rasharkin.

Meanwhile, the only demonstration in the Republic will take place at Rossnowlagh in Donegal on Saturday, July 6.