New proposals to restore the Stormont executive have failed to convince Orange Order leaders that their “cultural traditions and identity” will be meaningfully promoted, the Grand Lodge has said.
In response to the New Decade, New Approach document, a Grand Lodge statement said the loyal order has “very serious concerns” over aspects of the wide-ranging document published on Thursday evening.
In a statement released on Friday, a spokesman said: “The document, which has been released with a purposely narrow window for meaningful consideration, is clearly far reaching in its provision for the Irish language and its subsequent future role in the political and civic life of Northern Ireland.
“The Orange Institution has, on many occasions, stated its opposition to such legislative provision and has clearly articulated this message in the media and to our politicians and government.
“The detailed raft of proposals including the provision of an Irish Language Commissioner are clearly at odds with the stated view of the Institution and as such, we cannot support them.”
The statement added: “In contrast to the detailed list of measures to promote the Irish language, references to Ulster-Scots/Ulster-British culture are ambiguous – lacking meaningful detail or delivery mechanisms.
“Indeed many of the initiatives are merely reworkings of previous undelivered commitments to our community. As British citizens living in the United Kingdom we have a complex and multi-layered identity which in many areas is wider than simply ‘Ulster-Scots’. We remain unconvinced that the cultural traditions and identity of the Orange family will be meaningfully promoted or safeguarded by these proposals.”
As an institution, the order said it “seeks to contribute to a stable, successful Northern Ireland,” and added: “As citizens, we of course welcome the many references to improvements in health care, education, infrastructure and the economy – these are fundamental areas of public benefit which should be provided for all who live in the United Kingdom.
“Over the coming days we will consult more widely with our membership and will then comment further on the far-reaching content of this paper.”