THE Orange Order is encouraging its supporters to sign up to an anti-litter campaign.
The Order has lent its backing to the BIG Spring Clean, a scheme run by the group TIDY Northern Ireland which asks volunteers to sweep their neighbourhoods and parks free of rubbish.
A call for its members to get involved has gone out in the Order’s Orange Standard newsletter. The BIG Spring Clean began in March and finishes at the close of May.
Announcing the Order’s support, Grand Master Edward Stevenson said in a statement yesterday: “As one of the largest community organisations in the Province, we are mindful of playing our part in keeping our country tidy for not only visitors but also everyone who lives here.
“I hope Orangemen and women will answer the call to go green and, through their actions, improve the environment.”
Mr Stevenson encouraged individual lodges and districts to set an example to others by participating.
The Order’s press release did not refer to the poor state in which some parade supporters leave the streets in the wake of Loyal Order marches.
When the News Letter put to the Order that parades themselves can end with rubbish being strewn about, a spokesman said: “We encourage those who attend our events to extend the pride they show in the Institution by keeping our country tidy.
“Where there are bins provided there is really no excuse for dropping litter.”
Last year the News Letter photographed litter left on Belfast’s Lisburn Road on July 12 which fleets of street cleaners had cleared by July 13.
The BIG Spring Clean scheme works by groups signing up to go and collect litter in their own area – with clean-ups in recent days including Belvoir Park Forest and Jordanstown Lough Shore Park.
They are given blue and yellow bags into which to sort the collected rubbish, then record how much they lifted and report the figure to charity TIDY Northern Ireland.
Last year roughly 26,000 volunteers took part in the scheme and organisers hope for more this time round.
When it was suggested this seems like an extremely large figure, Lynsey McCloskey, campaign manager with TIDY Northern Ireland, said that sometimes entire schools will join in with the project. As well as schools from both sides of the community, the GAA is also involved in the tidy-up scheme.
She added that she understands Orange Order members already now plan to take part in a clean-up in the Spa area, south of Ballynahinch,
Dr Ian Humphreys, chief executive of TIDY Northern Ireland, said: “The BIG Spring Clean is such a brilliant way for the silent majority to get out and show the litter louts just how we want the place to be kept.”
The scheme saw 164 tonnes of waste lifted by volunteers last spring, and at this year’s launch Environment Minister Alex Attwood even claimed that a “drinking and drugs den” had been uncovered during a clean-up at a Newtownabbey estate.
For further information about the BIG Spring Clean or to register to take part, visit www.bigspringcleanni.org or phone TIDY Northern Ireland on 028 9073 6920.
see morning view, page 14