Give DUP space to work out deal with May: Orange Order

Mervyn Gibson
Mervyn Gibson

The DUP must be given space to work out a deal with the Tories that is in the best interests of everyone in the UK, a leading Orangeman has said.

The party remained under intense scrutiny from the British media today as talks between Arlene Foster and Theresa May took place in Downing Street, with critics voicing concerns about the DUP’s views on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

But Rev Mervyn Gibson, grand secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said unionism has been the victim of “misunderstanding and downright lies” in Great Britain over recent days.

On Monday, Rev Gibson told the News Letter he felt the DUP was being “unfairly vilified” by the Labour Party and media outlets on the mainland.

Speaking on BBC’s Talkback programme today, Rev Gibson said this “vilification” also extended to the Orange Order.

While Rev Gibson said he found many of the satirical cartoons appearing in the press over recent days humorous, he added that some had portrayed Orangemen as “knuckle draggers”.

He added: “There is a real lack of understanding. They are saying all Orangemen are bigots and all the DUP are all Orangemen. The whole thing is non sense.”

When asked by Talkback presenter William Crawley if the Orange Order were trying to influence the DUP to make parading a priority in the Tory deal, Rev Gibson said: “We have made no specific demands. The DUP are aware of our position on parades. They know the system needs to be overhauled and made more transparent.

“The DUP need a bit of space to talk to the Conservatives and do what is best for all of the UK.”