Brethren, sisters, friends

On behalf of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution, I want to extend to you all a warm welcome to our Twelfth demonstration here in Ballymoney on this the 332nd anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, my thanks to the County for inviting me to the platform.

I want to commend everyone who has taken part in the parade through the town, whether in the bands, drumming parties or as members of the Institution. Our parade might not be the largest in the Province but what we might lack in quantity, we more than make up for in quality! 

I also want to thank our supporters and friends who lined the route – and can I appeal to you to consider membership? We would love to have you on board. 

Our Twelfth demonstrations don’t just happen without months of planning, and before I go any further, I want to place on record my thanks to the brethren and sisters of Ballymoney District for all their hard work. 

Many of you will have got a copy of the magazine Orange Independent for 2022, in it you will see lots of information as well as ads for different organizations, please support these companies as they have supported us in the costs for the production of the magazine. My thanks as well to Bro Wilkinson who is chiefly responsible for producing the magazine.

This is my first Twelfth since I was elected Imperial Grand Master to be able to welcome you all to my home District here in Ballymoney. Because of the awful virus the entire country has had to endure since 2019 we have not been able to celebrate as we would have wished, my prayer is that the worst of it has passed, and normality will return. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on society and our Institution hasn’t missed it with many of our sisters, brethren and friends having succumbed to the illness.

The past few years have been marked with anniversaries and our Institution has been able to play its part in celebrating and commemorating the various anniversaries. 

On 7 May we marked a very sad anniversary of our own for that day was the 15th anniversary of the passing of our dear friend and former Imperial Grand Master, Bro George Dawson. We held the first of our George Dawson legacy lectures, and we know that he will never be forgotten. 

At the end of May we played our part in the massive and very dignified parade in Belfast to mark the 100th Birthday of Northern Ireland.

I join with the many who have voiced their anger at the pathetic coverage of this historic event by the BBC and UTV. We pay a licence to the BBC but I’m not sure what for. And now, to add insult to injury, they’ve scrapped live coverage of the Twelfth. There really is no excuse for this but it’s another example of BBC bias. They always seem to have plenty of time for live and recorded GAA events, but then that’s no surprise as it fits in with the nationalist agenda.

In the broader sense, I am greatly concerned about what is going on in our Province and indeed in the United Kingdom. Boris Johnson once hailed as the great leader of the Conservative party but now only a lame duck Prime Minister and leader, thankfully soon to be no more, because he has turned out to be nothing more than a charlatan and a liar, a person who undoubtedly has misled parliament, who had been making laws for us to abide by, while he himself broke them with gay abandon, he has proved that he is not to be trusted, did he not say there will never be a customs border between GB and NI, only to be found to be working on exactly that to get his version of Brexit done. He is not to be trusted and thankfully just over a week ago his party abandoned him, I hope never to see him again on our shores, but him I’m sorry to say that so many of his sidekicks in government are similar. 

But it would be remiss of me to criticize Boris alone, because we know only too well here in our own country that the Deputy Leader of Sinn Fein ( and would be First Minister) along with many of her party allies and IRA sympathizers did the same at the Storey funeral, I expect this is why we never heard any of them calling for Johnson to resign over his law breaking.

I want to say to our Unionist Political parties from this platform, do not trust the British Government on anything, make sure any agreements made are watertight and leave them no wriggle room for them to twist their promises, stand fast against them in anything that doesn’t suit us here in Northern Ireland. Our hope is that the Conservative Party will elect someone who is honourable, trustworthy and respectful of our wee country , we will pray for them as they seek to find someone like that, whom our politicians who can do business with.

Going through Parliament just now there are two bills concerning everyone here in Northern Ireland (legalizing abortion and amnesty for lawbreaking)

Up until last Thursday I think it was, a Brandon Lewis MP was the one responsible for ramrodding and legalizing abortion legislation in Northern Ireland, but he like so many of his collogues deserted Boris, like rats jumping from a sinking ship , (mind you who would blame them)resigned from the government and is no longer the secretary of state for Northern Ireland,  this Institution has clearly and consistently opposed abortion in our country and we say to Brandon Lewis and his successor, indeed to the whole government in Westminster it’s a shame on you for pushing this through parliament whenever you know it’s a devolved matter. Stop now and let the assembly decide on the matter whether that is this year or in ten years’ time. The longer the better at least lives will have been saved. This is not only one bad decision  made by Mr. Lewis and no doubt backed by the cabinet, but he also only wanted to allow murderers to escape free from trial , yep, you heard me right, let them off Scot free, I’m talking about the plans to legislate to end all prosecutions in the “Troubles “related cases pre–Good Friday agreement. This has been met with condemnations from both sides of this community, though I suspect that many from the Republicans  are only interested in killings they claim were committed by British soldiers and don’t give a thought to any totally innocent victims murdered by the IRA and other Republican Paramilitaries. 

Let’s pause here and define a victim.

A victim is an innocent person who, through no fault of their own, has been affected in some way or another by an act of terrorism. Victims are those who were injured or bereaved by terrorists – and who carry the wounds and endure the pain every single day. I include among the victims the members of our security forces for they too were innocent. 

Most of the innocent victims are still waiting for justice and this piece of work proposed by the government and fronted by the secretary of state will give them no justice at all, so we say from here in Ballymoney today withdraw this bill and spend  money on pursuing those whom your security forces know and who walk freely around the streets with innocent victims blood on their hands.

In 2016 from this platform, I called upon our Unionist leaders to unite and move forward together to avoid Sinn Fein gaining an upper hand, and despite more pleas to them in 2021 and also in the lead up to this year’s election they choose not to listen but went their own ways and now we see the consequences where Michelle is itching to get into the First Minister Position, how did this happen, why did it happen. 

Not only are we now confronted by republican parties like Sinn Fein and SDLP, but we must contend with a party called Alliance who have no morals at all, whether its gay marriage, abortion, United Ireland, or United Kingdom they don’t care. How anyone who claims to be a unionist or a Protestant can even consider voting Alliance is beyond me. Those who did vote for them should hang their heads in shame.

To our leaders we say enough is enough, compromise must be found between yourselves – unionist unity is now more important than ever.  To us voters we must use our votes wisely to ensure that never again will a republican party get to the position of First Minister. And shame on those who didn’t go out and vote. There is no excuse for such an attitude. 

We are  always pleased to welcome here to our shores members of the Royal Household, and it was great to see  Prince Charles and his wife, visiting in  March, and the Duke and Duchess of Wessex came in June as part of the Jubilee celebrations. We are looking forward to many more from them and other members of the Royal Family, it’s a delight for us to have them.

Contrast this with the visit of Richard Neal from United States of America who singlehandedly insulted the Unionist people of Northern Ireland when he along with his republican sympathizers visited here just in May past, I could say to Mr. Neal and his American cronies “butt out” , but I leave it to a certain Mr. Carson who is far more eloquent than me and I quote his words

I today seriously say to America:

You attend to your own affairs, and we will attend to ours. You look after your own questions at home, and we will look after ours. We will not brook any interference in our own affairs by any country, however powerful”

Words uttered by Sir Edward Carson in 1919 which still hold true in 2022.

To Mr. Neal I say America should be grateful to the many who left this land of Ireland and in particular from around the Ballymoney, Aghadowey, Coleraine and Limavady areas to help America  be the nation it is today.

We welcome visitors from America and elsewhere and are delighted to have them, but we don’t welcome rudeness or insults from anyone.

These have been challenging and changing times tinged with sadness for all of us and Her Majesty didn’t escape that sadness either as she lost her consort of 74 years Prince Phillip, who among us could forget the sad picture of her sitting alone at the funeral service.

But through it all she has remained as, one obeys the law, shows stability, dignity, and calmness. 

We rejoice with her as she has just celebrated her Platinum Jubilee and wish her God’s richest blessings at this special time and good health in the years ahead.

Her Majesty’s Christian faith is strong, and she has set a fine example to her subjects many times and no one can doubt here sincerity in her words spoken by her at a recent Christmas time

I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.”

Wise words indeed – and ones that we would all do well to follow.  

As an Institution, we are committed to the defence and promotion of the Protestant faith. Our parades are religious parades. Our faith is central to our work and witness. 

As I have already outlined in my speech, the Biblical foundations of our society are crumbling. It is vital that those of us who love the Bible and the God of the Bible do all we can to promote and defend Biblical teaching and standards.   

As was pointed out to us recently at Rasharkin District Service we are Protestants not to insult or disrespect our Roman Catholic neighbours and friends, but rather to protest against the doctrines of the church of Rome, it would do us well to remember our opening prayer in our LAWS and Ordinances when we say:-

“Deliver we pray thee the members of the church of Rome from error and false doctrine and lead them of that Holy Word which is able to make them wise salvation”

Brethren, Sisters, friendsmay God help us all to be true Protestants in the days that lie ahead of us.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the 12th.