The second annual Orange ‘victims’ day’ will be marked by the Institution with a series of commemorative events across Northern Ireland this weekend.
A total of 338 Orangemen and one Orangewoman were murdered by terrorists during the Troubles, but the commemorations also serve to highlight the ongoing plight of the injured and bereaved.
The majority of those killed were serving members of the security forces.
Grand Master Edward Stevenson led the acts of remembrance by laying a wreath and paying his respects at the institution’s memorial window at Schomberg House in Belfast.
Although September 1 will forever be associated with the IRA attack on Tullyvallen Orange Hall in south Armagh in 1975 – which claimed the lives of four Orangemen, with a fifth later dying from his injuries – the institution will also use that date to remember all of the losses suffered during the terrorist campaigns, and those still affected.
As well a number of services across the country on Sunday, at 7.30pm on Monday there will be a screening the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland documentary ‘Strong To Survive,’ followed by a talk from victims’ campaigner Sammy Heenan in Cranfield Orange Hall, Co Down.
Mr Stevenson described the victims’ day as one of “remembrance and reflection” for the Orange family, while aspiring to give “hope for the future” for those bereaved and injured.
“When I was elected grand master, I made a pledge that the innocent victims of the Troubles and their families would remain a key priority for the Orange Institution.
“The continuation of our designated victims’ day is a public demonstration of that promise,” he said.
“As an organisation which suffered immeasurably during the Troubles, with our deceased members amounting to approximately one in 10 of all those who were killed; this yearly initiative will serve as a constant reminder of the loss experienced by Orangeism during the terrorist campaign.”
Mr Stevenson added: “Cemeteries across this Province bear testimony to the sacrifice paid by so many people and, in particular, our members.
“More than half of them were singled out by republicans because they were serving this community in the security forces.
“Others were targeted because they were Protestant and members of the Orange Order. They must never be forgotten.”