Orangemen make journey to Bessbrook

Brethern on the march on Monday morning. INPT29-265.
Brethern on the march on Monday morning. INPT29-265.

Portadown’s Orangemen had one of their longer journeys for the Twelfth Demonstration with this year’s County Armagh event taking place in Bessbrook.

The flagship demonstration began on the outskirts of the village and headed through a small country road before surging up a hill and into its main street, to a ripple of applause from flag-waving onlookers.

Grand Master Of The Grand Orange Lodge Of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, hailed the Twelfth as “an unrivalled show of community solidarity; as well as a fantastic spectacle of colour, fellowship and music”.

Praising the day, Mr Stevenson said the Twelfth is now “widely recognised as one of the largest festivals in Europe”.

He also reminded his assembled brethren of the losses which the order has suffered at the hands of republicans.

He said: “Indeed, this morning, at this parade local brethren paused at the Kingsmills memorial in the village to pay their respects to 10 local Protestants murdered in the terrorist atrocity almost four decades ago.

“Later this year, we will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Tullyvallen massacre, when IRA gunmen ambushed a lodge meeting, brutally killing five Orangemen.

“We will always ensure the sacrifice of our 332 murdered brethren will never be forgotten.”

He concluded by saying: “Given the scale of this demonstration and no doubt others across the Province, it is clear that Orangeism - despite our many challenges - remains the social cement binding our community; confirming our enduring relevance and existence. Long may that continue to be the case.”