SENIOR members of the Orange Order from around the world have met in Australia to debate matters of mutual interest.
Up to 60 delegates – including Grand Master Edward Stevenson – attended the recent Imperial Orange Council in Melbourne.
Representatives from all Grand Lodges meet formally every three years.
As well as Northern Ireland and the Republic, the loyal institution has a membership base in England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and west Africa.
However, due to visa problems Orangemen from Ghana and Togo were unable to attend the traditional triennial meeting.
As part of the formal council sessions, hosted by the Grand Orange Lodge of Victoria, attendees were addressed by an academic on the monarchist situation in the Commonwealth country.
A formal dinner was also held to mark the Queen’s forthcoming Diamond Jubilee.
The Grand Masters and Mistresses from each jurisdiction also took part in a separate wreath-laying ceremony in Sydney to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of troops from Australia and New Zealand during the First World War.
Mr Stevenson – who was attending his first council meeting since being elected as Grand Master last year – described the event as a “great success”.
Other Northern Ireland delegates included former Grand Masters Robert Saulters and the Rev Martin Smyth, as well as various county representatives.
Fermanagh Orangeman Stuart Brooker said the success of last month’s gathering indicated the continuing global relevance of the Order in today’s society.
“Wherever we meet, friendships are renewed, new ones are made, and we continue to experience fellowship within our very fine institution,” he said.
The next meeting of the Imperial Orange Council is scheduled to take place in England in 2015.