Attempts to re-write history and equate killers with their victims must be fiercely countered, those gathered at a memorial service for two murdered Orangemen have heard.
Relatives of 49-year-old RUC reserve Constable Ivan Crawford and Constable Andrew Beacom, 46, gathered in Brooke Memorial Orange Hall in Fermanagh on Sunday afternoon to see the unveiling of a plaque in honour of both men.
Ivan Crawford was killed by an IRA bomb hidden in a telegraph pole in High Street Enniskillen on January 9, 1987 while he was on foot patrol.
Andrew Beacom was shot dead alongside reserve Constable Ernest Smith by the IRA in Fivemiletown on December 12, 1993.
Speaking at the event Grand Master Edward Stevenson said the sacrifices of both men will not be forgotten.
“As well as being loyal members of our Institution, Brother Crawford and Brother Beacom had much in common,” he said. “They were both happily married, both were proud fathers of three children and both willingly wore the uniform of their country, despite the constant and ever-lurking threat of terrorism.
“Both dedicated and courageous members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary at the height of the Troubles, they were callously and brutally murdered in the prime of their lives by IRA terrorists.
“Such senseless acts of barbarity were the dastardly deeds of faceless criminals - intent on causing nothing other than death and destruction on the streets of our beloved Province.
Bro Stevenson pledged his commitment, as head of the Orange Institution, to standing up for the rights and entitlements of victims.
“In doing so, we must always resist attempts by republicans to re-write history and fiercely counter - at all times - their warped narrative attempting in any way to justify murder,” he said.
“The perpetrators of such obscene violence can never become the victims.”
Last month there was outrage when a memorial plaque to Shankill bomber Thomas Begley was unveiled just a short distance from where the atrocity took place 20 years ago.
Relatives of bomb victims criticised the insensitivity of the move, which saw Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly share a platform with Begley’s accomplice Sean Kelly at the memorial.
At the Fermanagh service on Sunday County Grand Master, Norman Johnston, said Brothers Crawford and Beacom will never be forgotten.
“They gave their lives to maintain peace and stability, and a heritage which we cherish so much as members of the Orange Order,” he said.
“The unveiling of this memorial plaque by Brookeborough District rightly acknowledges the gallantry of two RUC officers who were ruthlessly taken from us in the prime of their lives by republican murderers.”
During the Troubles 31 Orangemen were murdered in Fermanagh.
The total number of Orangemen murdered across Northern Ireland is 337.
The one-year anniversary of the shooting of Montober LOL member and prison officer David Black took place on Friday.