As leaders of the Loyal Orders came together in County Tyrone on Friday, 1st of September, 2023, to mark the sixth annual Orange Victims’ Day it was a privilege for our Institution to be part of what has become an annual event. This year Orange Victim’s Day, was hosted by the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in Dungannon.

It was a powerful and poignant event as we gathered to remember all those members of the loyal orders who were murdered by terrorists and to assure their families of our prayers as they remember loved ones that are no longer with them. At a time when the perpetrators try to twist history and airbrush their terrorism from its pages it is vital that we continue to take a stand for truth.

Representatives of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, the Royal Black Institution, The Apprentice Boys of Derry, The Junior Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, The Royal Arch Purple Chapter and the Independent Loyal Orange Institution took part in the ceremony hosted by The Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in St. Anne’s Parish Church, Dungannon.

The service was conducted by Rev. Bryan Martin, Rector of Drumglass Parish and the the Act of Remembrance took place at the 8th Bn. UDR Memorial in the church grounds. Many present reflected on the service and sacrifice of the UDR whose role ensured that the men of violence did not prevail.

We pay tribute to the The Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland who organised a fitting event. Many members took part such as Sister Margaret Hill, of Tullylagan Pipe Band, who piped while the wreaths were laid and Sister Helen Wilson who played the Last Post, while Grand Treasurer Sister Anna Moffitt read the Exhortation. The Grand Mistress of the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, Sister Joan Beggs oversaw a remarkable event. 

Deputy Imperial Grand Master Wor Bro Mervyn Storey and Wor Bro Drew McIntyre pictured at the Co Tyrone UDR Memorial in the grounds of St Anne’s Church, Dungannon, where the floral tributes were laid by the representatives of the loyal orders to mark Orange Victim’s Day.

As an Institution we pledge our unswerving support to the innocent victims, and recall how this year 25 years ago many of our members played an important role in helping to form some of these groups and to organise campaigns such as the Long March which put their issues onto the agenda. Now a quarter of a century on we see that victims are still denied justice and proper support. Just as we walked with victims a quarter of a century ago we still walk with them today. 

We pay tribute to those who took the initiative in 2018, when the inaugural Orange Victims’ Day was held, this has been the date the Orange family formally remembers the 341 Orangemen and one Orangewomen murdered by terrorists during the Troubles. 

This year, the 1st of September is the 48th anniversary of the IRA attack on Tullyvallen Orange Hall, which claimed the lives of four Orangemen, with a fifth dying later as a result of his injuries. When we hear so much about collusion and we must remember the role of the Irish Government in the murder of our kith and kin. Their financial, ideological and practical support created the PIRA, then for decades their refusal to secure the border, to extradite terrorists and to stop the active collusion of members of the Irish Defence Forces and Police with the PIRA means that today they have innocent blood on their hands. 

The 1975 Tullyvallen Orange hall massacre in south Armagh was the largest loss of life inflicted on the Orange Family from a single incident during the terrorist campaign. We now know that PIRA terrorists planned a similar attack on another Orange Hall but thankfully the lodge for security reasons was meeting at a local farm. We now know that the weapons used and those who were involved were responsible for serial murder in South Armagh. It is now time for a full inquiry into these serial killers.