Edward Stevenson re-elected as Orange Grand Master

Edward Stevenson has been unanimously re-elected as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. Picture: Graham Curry Photography
Edward Stevenson has been unanimously re-elected as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. Picture: Graham Curry Photography

Edward Stevenson has been unanimously re-elected as Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

The farmer from Ardstraw, Co Tyrone has held the post of five years having succeeded Robert Saulters in January 2011.

Mr Stevenson’s selection was confirmed at a meeting of the Grand Lodge in Ballintra, Co Donegal on Wednesday.

Afterwards the 60-year-old said it was a “tremendous privilege” to continue in the role.

He said: “It is deeply humbling, and I am extremely proud, to once again receive the confidence of the membership of the Institution.

“I very much look forward to fulfilling the role and carrying out the respective duties”.

Mr Stevenson hailed 2015 as a “momentous” year for the institution with the opening of the Orange Heritage museums in Belfast and Loughgall, Co Armagh.

“Both facilities are outstanding educational and historical resources, which since opening their doors in the summer have been welcoming people from all walks of life and many parts of the world who are keen to learn more about the Orange tradition.

“Orangeism has a place as of right in the history of the British Isles and elsewhere, and we are delighted, through such welcome additions to the local cultural and tourism scene, to preserve and showcase our collection of impressive artefacts to a wider audience,” he said.

The Grand Master said he would be honoured to lead the institution at a number of commemorations to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and stressed the urgent need for a “fresh start” regarding the resolution of high profile parading disputes.

Mr Stevenson added: “The institution has long maintained that the current parading legislation should be replaced with laws and regulations that are fair and unbiased towards all communities. That remains our position and we would once again urge the Secretary of State to fulfil her duties and act decisively on this matter.

“With this in mind, we anticipate the findings of the independent review regarding parades and protests on the Crumlin Road, north Belfast, will be published early in the New Year.

“We trust the review will provide an accurate account of the facts surrounding the current impasse and offer conclusions that will contribute to a just and equitable resolution.”

At the same meeting, Harold Henning was re-elected as Deputy Grand Master, and Drew Nelson will retain his position as Grand Secretary.