Orange Order grand secretary Mervyn Gibson: We’ve always lived with uncertainty and opposition

Nationalists hoping to entice unionists into accepting a united Ireland have been urged to “save your breath” by the Orange Order’s grand secretary.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 30th May 2022, 7:24 am
Updated Monday, 30th May 2022, 9:49 am

During his platform address ahead of the NI Centennial parade on Saturday, Rev Mervyn Gibson also said there would be no functioning Executive at Stormont without “fundamental change” to the post-Brexit NI Protocol.

However, Rev Gibson suggested “compromise” might be necessary to secure the stability of Northern Ireland, telling the crowd: “We do not live in a world as we would like it to be. We live in a world in the reality of today, with its challenges for this generation.”

There were cheers and applause during his speech as he defended the place of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom.

Rev Mervyn Gibson speaks at Stormont before the start of the Northern Ireland centenary parade from Stormont towards City Hall in Belfast, to commemorate the creation of Northern Ireland. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022.

“Someone tweeted ahead of today that we as unionists are living in times of uncertainty and opposition. They are right, but that is and always has been the case,” he said.

“We have always lived in such times due to those within who want to destroy Northern Ireland for the sake of some new utopian Ireland where we are told we will all be valued.

“A new Ireland where the planter after 400 years will finally be accepted. Let me respond to this magnanimous gesture: we neither need your permission nor acceptance.

“We are here longer than Joe and Richie’s folks are in America. We are United Kingdom citizens by birth, Northern Irish through our culture and heritage, which makes us British by choice and conviction.

“We have no interest in becoming part of an all-Ireland. Save your breath.”

Rev Gibson added: “The majority of unionists have voted that political unionism do not join an Executive until the wrongs lurking in the protocol are rooted out and thrown out.

“Let us make it very simple for our European neighbours, not least those on the other side of the border in the Republic of Ireland.

“We will not tolerate any system, process or structure that will allow checks on any goods trading within the UK for use within the UK. No fundamental change to the protocol, then no functioning Assembly.

“The words of our forefathers still ring true for us today even from Derry’s walls to the signing of the Covenant. United we stand, divided we fall.

“And the cry to those who seek to persuade us, protocol or push us into a united Ireland, is still the same: no surrender.”

Earlier, Grand Master Edward Stevenson had opened proceedings at Stormont by telling the crowd: ”From its earliest days, Northern Ireland had to face turbulent times and very many challenges.”

He added: “Due to the adversity of those years, I believe that we are fully justified in not only commemorating, but proudly celebrating, this anniversary.”