The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland issued a statement this week, confirming the move following a recent meeting with the Chief Medical Officer, Health Minister and First Minister.
The decision means the postponement of a major Northern Ireland centenary parade in May, which many local lodges and bands would have been likely to attend.
The Order said: “In light of the current health crisis, and ongoing restrictions, the Grand Lodge officers and senior representatives of every County Grand Lodge have unanimously agreed to extend the current existing directive that no Orange parades are to take place until 1st June 2021,
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“The ongoing risk of community transmission and serious concerns around new, more virulent variants of the Covid-19 virus have reaffirmed the threat posed by the ongoing pandemic and as such any event that would attract large numbers of spectators is not viable or responsible at this time.
“Therefore, the major rally and parade to commemorate the centennial of Northern Ireland on May 29th has been postponed. We remain committed to the delivery of this parade in the future, assuring all it will take place at a time when it can be hosted safely, and in the manner and scale this important anniversary deserves.”
The Order’s Grand Master Edward Stevenson said he realised the news would bring disappointment to many, “however our ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of our members and the wider community unfortunately mean that our plans must be changed at this time”.
He added: “To bring crowds onto the street at this time would undermine the work of the Institution’s members, who played an active role in responding to the need for PPE equipment and the many who continue to support communities in various ways.”
The Order said that the decision to forego parades until 1st June would be reviewed when appropriate, and “responsible decisions” would be taken as to the likely nature of future parades and events.
“The Orange Institution calls all to pray for the situation at this time; remember those in leadership with difficult decisions to make; pray for comfort for the bereaved and healing for the sick. Give thanks for the dedication of NHS and others, but especially those staff on the front line in Covid wards. Remember those who feel isolated and alone because of current restrictions. Pray that this virus will be brought under control,” the Order said.
Click here to read: Parade plans constantly under review, says Orange Order
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