In launching its new branding, a senior member of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution (ILOI) has explained what sets it apart from the more widely known Orange Order.
Imperial Grand Master James Anderson said: “There isn’t so much difference now, but away back when this institution started it (in 1903) was politically motivated.
“The Orange Institute was more or less overrun by the political people of the day. A lot of people here in north Antrim and beyond didn’t like the idea of that and they felt that Orangeism should be free from politics.
“That’s how we stand today.”
He added: “The Orange Order, thankfully in the last 10, 15 years have almost removed the political element from their institution and we’re more or less one and the same now.
“We’ve very good fraternal relationships with our Orange counterparts. We work well together throughout the country.
“Everybody in our organisation is entitled to their own political point of view, but at our lodge meetings we do not discuss politics.”
He explained that the ILOI has some politicians in its number including Gregory Campbell, Mervyn Storey and several local councillors, “but they leave their politics at the door”. The late Rev Ian Paisley was not a member but did address Independent Orange events.
Mr Anderson, 69, said the institution was small but had a reach around the globe.
He said: “It’s a small organisation, our membership is probably somewhere between 350 to 400. Having said that we are spread out all over the world. We have lodges in England, Scotland, connections in Australia, Argentina and Canada. We have requests for lodges from ex-pats who have moved to Spain.”
Discussing why it has become hard to get new members, he said: “Probably 60 or 70 years ago there wasn’t wall-to-wall television and not everybody had a car, you were lucky to have a bicycle.
“Being a member of an organisation like this was a big thing. It was somewhere to go. People back then would have gone out as much. You maybe were out twice a year. One was the Twelfth of July the other would have been a Sunday School trip.
“Now people can jump in their car and go anywhere or watch their TV all day and night. That’s our competition.”
Mr Anderson, a member for over 40 years and grand master for three, said: “It means a lot to me. I came into our institution because of my family connections. We’re a Bible based organisation and the word of God is something I firmly believe in.”
Central to the new strategy of the ILOI as it approaches is 125th anniversary in 2028 has been a rebranding exercise which marries the traditional with the modern.
The institution’s new logo was designed along with NI consultancy firm LEXXER Solutions.
The design which was chosen was based on the Royal Cypher used by King William himself.
The interwoven W and M topped with a crown was in essence his logo, just as ER II is the Royal cypher of the present Queen Elizabeth II.
This cypher was synonymous with King William III and as an Institution which bears his name and celebrates his memory the connection is most fitting.
The letters ILOI have been interwoven into the cypher symbolising how much a part of the fabric of Orangeism the ILOI really is.
The other addition is a modern crown resting upon an open Bible to symbolise the belief that civil and religious liberties and the democratic system of the Crown – the basis of the British Constitution – is based on the personal freedom and faith which comes from a Biblical Protestantism.