The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast has urged the electorate to turn out this week in response to the removal of the Union Flag from flying daily at City Hall.
County Grand Master George Chittick said in a letter: “These elections come in the wake of events that have witnessed a renewed assault on expressions of our British cultural identity – the flag of our country removed from Belfast City Hall; Loyal Order members and bandsmen convicted for playing Christian hymns; Ligoniel Lodges unable to complete their 2013 July 12 parade; to highlight but three issues.
“These injustices and regular revelations concerning republican ‘on the runs’ and other aspects of their cowardly terrorist campaign highlight that it is imperative we have a strong elected unionist voice challenging and combating those whose goal is a united Ireland.”
The leading Orangeman said he would “implore every member of the Belfast County to vote on May 22”.
He added: “Apathy amongst unionism and failing to vote is the ally of nationalism.
“It is up to each individual as to what brand of unionism they vote for, however I would encourage you to vote for every unionist candidate on the local council ballot paper and no others.”