Local UUP MLA Robin Swann told brethren at the Braid District Twelfth demonstration in Broughshane that he was delighted to be speaking to them as “a Brother Orangeman”.
He told the packed gathering: “I am extremely proud of this Order, its history and its contribution to Northern Ireland’s society, and I am extremely proud to be a member, having served in my own Lodge of Ferniskey 115 as Master, Secretary and Lecturer.
“I know and appreciate that those oaths and pledges that we take to become a member, should not be just mere phrases or words, but should be as binding upon us as any obligation.
“So I am glad to see and I am proud to be part of the combined Orange and political response, that has emerged since the Parade’s Commission’s ludricious decision, in regards to our Brethren in Ligoniel,” said Mr Swann.
“It is through this coming together in a common purpose but still respectful of our political differences that we can demonstrate, the unity of purpose within the unionist family.
“...But I say clearly here today, that violence must not be met with violence – and in that I support the Grand Master’s words when he said on Thursday that:..’...the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, in partnership with the Unionist family, have embarked on a course of action that will see democracy and cultural tolerance become the corner stones of society where the threat of violence or the echo of terrorism no longer stifle progress and stability. The only thing that will trump such on-going activities is effective peaceful and lawful protest. If your view of protest is violence or if you seek to cause agitation within Unionism, please stay away from our protests.
“ ‘One stone thrown will undermine the peaceful protests at Twaddell over the last 12 months and for the past 16 years each Sunday at Drumcree...’”
Mr Swann said: “Be always mindful Brethren that, the same persecution and attacks on our culture are evident not far from where we stand today in the villages of Dunloy and Rasharkin.
“Also remember Brethren that the decisions of the Parades Commission and the actions of Republicans do not just impact those involved directly in parades in certain areas, they affect us all.
“...Brethren there is a challenge to be overcome here with the Parades Commission, but there is also a greater challenge to be overcome. That is the opinion of the media, commentators and more importantly international media.”
Mr Swann thanked the Worshipful District Master, District Officers and Secretary and the Brethren and Bands involved in the Braid demonstration, and the members of Lisnamurrican for being hosts.