It may be still limited by pandemic restrictions but the ILOI intend to mark the Centenary of our country with a series of ‘iconic’ events. The theme of the Centenary celebrations is to celebrate all that is iconic about Northern Ireland. From our remarkable story from prehistoric times to plantation and onward to 1921 when Partition created the country we now know it is story worth telling.

The ILOI will also be telling their story and reflecting on how they put the I or Independent into the story of N.I. – ours is a remarkable story which explodes many of the myths and undermines much of the propaganda employed by those who would like to see Northern Ireland fail. Ours is a story of coming to love a country whose creation was a compromise we originally did not support. Our vision was the defense of the Union as it was – and we very much opposed the concessions to Irish Nationalism and Republicanism. Then as now their demands, and the violence which was employed to support the demands caused the British Government to strike a deal.

However as Unionism has shown over the past century we are prepared to make the sacrifice for peace and stability. Further we are prepared to make politics and government work and have done so for a century. This year we mark that sacrifice and that success, we reflect on the price paid and the value of Northern Ireland and its role in the world.

As an Institution we speak for working class Protestant Communities, whose experience of Stormont Governments over these years was not one of privilege and ascendancy. Our life experience in terms of employment, housing and health different little for the Roman Catholic community. Indeed we were often the fiercest and at times only critics of ‘big house’ unionism. However in the face of aggression from the South, betrayal by London, and a minority community which failed to accept or support the new state members of the ILOI took their stand alongside others to defend this wee country from terrorism, and betrayal.

We have always worked to make it a safer, fairer better place to live and we now reflect on our story as part of the bigger story of Northern Ireland.

Follow our events online and in real time as we launch our ICONIC Programme of events on 22 June


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