Lodge Life: We must never forget sacrifice of brethren

The Fermanagh bannerette paying tribute to members from the county who were murdered during the Troubles
The Fermanagh bannerette paying tribute to members from the county who were murdered during the Troubles

Co Fermanagh grand master, Stuart Brooker, outlines the significance and importance of an annual memorial parade and service in Enniskillen this weekend

Throughout the course of the Troubles, many members of the Orange Order made the supreme sacrifice in the defence of our civil and religious liberty.

On Sunday evening, the institution in Co Fermanagh will continue to remember 31 of our brethren at the 10th annual memorial parade and service.

Each year we take the time to remember those who paid with their lives in holding the line against a concerted terrorist campaign. The first parade took place in 2009, and it was at this parade and drumhead service the memorial bannerette was unfurled. The bannerette has been carried in their honour at the head of each Twelfth of July demonstration, and all official county Grand Lodge parades since.

Members, and their families, will take this opportunity to remember the quiet determination of those who served in the RUC, UDR, and Royal Irish Home Service, in helping to bring an end to the IRA’s terrorist campaign. Without the commitment and sacrifice of the 31 members of the institution remembered, and indeed many others within our community, Northern Ireland would be a much worse place today.

We owe these men a debt of gratitude that cannot be measured, and remember also, those members of the regular Army who served here, many of whom also paid the supreme sacrifice.

The Orange Institution lost 336 members during the Troubles. The loss specifically in Fermanagh equates to almost 10% of that total. Of that 31, not one single person has ever been brought to justice.

Those of our members who served in the security forces owe a great debt of gratitude to the wives, husbands, children, and wider family circles, for the support they gave. They too were often exposed to danger on a daily basis, with many having to carry on after the loss of a loved one. The wife of a UDR soldier once said: “It was always a relief to hear the latch opening, and to know he was home safe.”

Our faith gives us a bearable future to look forward to. Many say we must move on and put the past to one side. Yes, we have to move on, time dictates this, but in doing so we must effectively deal with the past. Other things like justice, and telling our story, play a part in dealing with the past, but our faith is the main stay. However, in dealing with all this we must always remember.

It is important that we never forget the sacrifice that these brethren have made, in order that we can look forward to a peaceful future in Northern Ireland. The future will pose many challenges for us all; challenges that we as an institution are prepared to meet as we continue to take our rightful place in society, and play our part in the wider community.

l Sunday’s memorial parade will form up in Derrychara Link Road at 6pm, moving off at 6.15pm, and making its way to St Macartin’s Cathedral for the service at 7pm.