Loyal banners unfurl for record

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More than 350 loyal banners from across the UK and Ireland were proudly displayed in the Co Fermanagh village of Kesh last night in a world record breaking attempt parade.

The brethren are hoping to have created the record for the largest number of banners ever seen on parade anywhere in the world.

The novel idea was dreamed up by Orange men from Pettigo District and was organised to take place last night to mark both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

District Secretary Gary Wilson said that organisers have been “overwhelmed” by the interest generated by the parade.

“England, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland lodges have all registered to attend and at present we know of 350 banners and up to 40 bands coming on the night,” he said.

“This has been a fantastic spectacle of music, colour and culture the likes of which has never been seen in recent times”

Mr Wilson stated that Guinness World Records Ltd have no registered record regarding the number of banners in one parade so brethren hoped to set an official precedent.

Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, was among those in attendance at last night’s event.

“Banners are such an important expression of our culture. They are so colourful and each banner has its own history, unique to the lodge it represents,” he said.

As well as the world record bid, the event also included the annual opening of the only remaining Orange arch in Fermanagh.

The arch was opened by senior Orangeman and Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird who followed the ceremony with a hard hitting speech in which he said he believes it is only a matter of time before the Republic of Ireland rejoins the Commonwealth.

The former chairman of the Ulster Scots Agency also accused some senior civil servants of adopting a “pro Irish and anti Ulster Scots attitude”.

Echoing comments made by the Grand Secretary of the Loyal Institution, Drew Nelson, during his historic address to the Irish Senate in Dublin earlier this week, Mr Laird told assembled brethren he would welcome the situation whereby the Republic re-enters the “British family” of the Commonwealth.

“That topic is the undercurrent of talk which has been taking place in Westminster and Dublin,” Lord Laird claimed.

“Just look at the play being performed in recent years before our very eyes. The UK lends vast sums to help the failed Irish economy. Her Majesty the Queen visits Dublin. Martin McGuinness has the self confidence to meet the Queen. The next step clearly is Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth.”