Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson has demanded a meeting with the American Consul in Northern Ireland after “alarming revelations” that US guns were used in the IRA murder of more than half of their members during the Troubles.
The call for clarity from the US government comes after research by the Order revealed the extent to which American weaponry was used in the murder of members during the IRA terrorist campaign.
“This is a very serious matter and the United States owes it to the families of those murdered to investigate how a majority of the weapons used in the commission of murder of our members appear to have been from the USA,” said an Orange Order spokesman.
“The United States has set itself in the forefront of the war against terrorism worldwide, but this analysis shows an embarrassing situation which must be addressed if the US is to have any credibility in expressing opposition to terrorism.”
Research on the origin of weapons was compiled through information supplied by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
“Most of the weaponry probably arrived via republican sympathisers in the United States and it is believed that at least some may have come from thefts at military installations,” a statement from the Orange Order said yesterday.
The Orange Order now believe American weapons were used in the massacre of Orangemen at Tullyvallen Orange Hall in Co Armagh in September 1975 where five brethren were murdered.
They also believe US weapons may have been used in the Kingsmills massacre a few months later.
The first American weapon used is believed to have been responsible for the murder of Orangemen Francis William Veitch in September 1971, at Kinawley RUC station.
Three hundred and thirty-two members of the Orange Order were murdered during the Troubles – the majority by the IRA [78 per cent].
Two hundred and twenty-nine Orange Order members were shot dead, while another 73 died in bombings.
“The statistics show that a total of 266 weapons have been identified as having originated in a variety of countries, including the Eastern Bloc, Germany, England and the USA,” said the statement.
“The bulk, however, were of American origin.
“The figures show that 149 (56 per cent) of the weapons can be identified as from the USA.
“A further 98 weapons could not be identified as to country of origin.”
A spokesman for the US Consulate said they “would be pleased to meet with representatives of the Orange Order to hear their concerns firsthand”.
“We look forward to discussing with the Orange Order the broad range of issues facing the people of Northern Ireland, including ways to further advance peace and community relations,” he said.
Forty-two per cent of murdered Orange Order members were civilians, 29 per cent were members of the UDR and 22 per cent were members of the RUC.
Five hundred children were left without a parent as a result.