Castlederg: pride in '˜firm stand' during Troubles

The most senior Orangeman in Ireland told his colleagues at the Twelfth in Castlederg that he was 'intensely proud' of their stand during the Troubles, having lost more members to terrorism than any other county.

Thursday, 12th July 2018, 10:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:43 pm
Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone (L-R) Raymond Kerrigan, Gordon Hamilton, Ken Roulston and Ernest Kerrigan LOL 773 Killen District No 12. Picture by Brian Little

Grand Master Edward Stevenson, who hails from near Castlederg, reminded the demonstration that republicans murdered 85 Tyrone Orangemen – but that the order would not allow the killers to “rewrite history” and justify their campaign.

“I am intensely proud to be a Tyrone man and I am proud of the way that the Orange brethren in this county have stood firm and resolute over many difficult years,” he said in his address.

“It is well documented you faced a vicious campaign by republicans who were intent on genocide in border areas.

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Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Rev David Reid Grand Chaplin of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland,Grand Master Edward Stevenson, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and Stanley McFarland Deputy Grand Treasurer. Picture by Brian Little

“Tragically, the local cemetery bears testimony to the sacrifice paid by so many people, and in particular members of the Orange institution.”

He noted that around one of every 10 victims of the Troubles was a member of the order.

“During the Troubles we had 336 members murdered – almost entirely by republicans. More than half of them were singled out because they were serving their community in the security forces. Others were targeted simply because they were Protestant and members of the Orange Order.

“This county suffered more than any other with 85 members, including one Orangewoman, paying the ultimate sacrifice. In this particular area alone, we think of Sister Heather Kerrigan, a UDR corporal, who was murdered in an IRA landmine explosion alongside her colleague, and Orangeman, Norman McKinley, 34 years ago this weekend.”

Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Max Preston, aged 4 from Artigarvan. Picture by Brian Little

Six districts – Sixmilecross, Strabane, Fintona, Omagh, Killen and Newtownstewart – were on parade in the west Tyrone town.

Fifty-six lodges and about 50 bands assembled at Mitchell Park on the Lower Strabane Road at 12.30pm, and walked along Upper Strabane Road, William Street, John Street, Main Street and along the Castlegore Road to the demonstration field.

As an area of Northern Ireland with a particularly strong piping tradition, pipe bands provided most of the music, although there were also some flute and accordion bands as well. A novel feature this year were local highland dancers performing at the head of the parade.

The religious address was conducted by local minister, Rev David Reid, a grand chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. Also attending was past County Tyrone grand master, Jim Emery, and Rev Jason Lingiah, a grand chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.

Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone (L-R) Irene Kerrigan WLOL 202 Castlederg, Fred Gilchrist LOL 377 District No 12 and Joan Magee WLOL 202 Castlederg. Picture by Brian Little

Local lodge Kilclean LOL 773 displayed a new banner, unfurled for the first time just before the Twelfth.

In his speech Mr Stevenson also remembered the six members of Tullywhisker LOL who were murdered – the most of any individual Tyrone lodge.

The order’s designated victims’ day is September 1, he said.

“Republicans are daily attempting to rewrite history to make it look as if their campaign of murder was somehow justified. We will never allow the perpetrators of violence to become the victims, and that would be an insult to those who lost their lives and to their families. This will be a cornerstone of our annual day of remembrance.”

Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Aaron Burke LOL 34 Fintonia District No 8 with his sons James and Thomas Burke LOL 250. Picture by Brian Little

He added: “The true victims did not wear balaclavas and skulk behind walls and hedges. There must be no comparison between the victims and victim-makers, the terrorists.”

The order continues to consult with victims’ groups and unionist political parties on dealing with the past. Last month he was part of an Orange delegation to discuss the issues with Secretary of State, Karen Bradley.

In the coming weeks, the order will make a formal submission to the government on the issues.

“We have been through a lot, none more so than in this area, but we have come out at the other end as a stronger people,” he said.

Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Katie-Lee Anderson, aged 3 from Beagh. Picture by Brian Little
Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Donemana LOL 503 District No 14. displaying their new banner. Picture by Brian Little
Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Augharonan Star of Ulster LOL 462 members and Augharonan Pipe Band Co Tyrone Picture by Brian Little
Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Annie-Mae Henderson and Lily Moore for Barr Jubilee Pipe Band Fintona. Picture by Brian Little
Twelfth Parade in Castlederg Co Tyrone Members of Newtownstewart LOL No 5 on parade. Picture by Brian Little