Orange Order: No Stormont return while NI Protocol remains in place

Anyone who identifies themselves as a unionist has a responsibility to mobilise and maximise the pro-Union vote on May 5, the Orange Order has urged.

By Henry McDonald
Monday, 4th April 2022, 4:02 pm
Updated Monday, 4th April 2022, 4:58 pm

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland also warned that if unionist voters fail to turn out for the Assembly election then that will be interpreted by republicanism as a vote against Northern Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom.

In a major policy statement released on Monday, the Grand Lodge said there must be no return to Stormont while the Northern Ireland Protocol remains in place.

Urging unionists to vote in greater numbers, the Grand Lodge said: “Everyone needs to care enough to vote unionist and persuade others to do the same. By all means hold those elected to account, especially on the key issues which impact us all - health, education, the economy and local issues that impact you.

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The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland urged unionists to ‘only vote for individuals who have publicly opposed the Protocol’

“However don’t let the political disappointments of the past prevent you from playing your part in preserving the Union.”

The Grand Lodge said there was no excuse for not voting, adding that “your vote was dearly won and must never be wasted”.

On the Protocol, the Grand Lodge said: “Unionists should only vote for individuals who have publicly opposed the Protocol and are committed to the removal of all checks it imposes on goods travelling within the United Kingdom for use within the United Kingdom.

“Every democratic means available should be deployed to see the Protocol confined to history and there should be no return to Stormont whilst the Protocol-related issues remain unresolved.”

It also dismissed the argument that for some businesses operating in Northern Ireland the Protocol is working, with trade increasing with the Republic of Ireland.

The Grand Lodge called for the benefits of the Union to be shared and promoted at every opportunity, including new communities from other countries that have chosen in recent years to live in Northern Ireland.

“Unionism is a broad church, in which support is welcomed from all quarters - reflecting the society in which we live. Racism and sectarianism are not compatible with the Ulster Unionism, which is Democratic, Traditional and Progressive.”

The loyal order said its vision for Northern Ireland was a “place at peace with itself and with its neighbours”.

It added that the Province also needed to be a “place where history is not rewritten, where there is no equivocation between victims and victim makers”.

The statement, titled “Unionism 2022 & Beyond”, was a position paper “to shape where we believe the Unionist community needs to go collectively into the future”.

Read the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland’s full statement: