Second Orange Order district goes public over Irish Sea border ‘betrayal’

Orange Order members in Portadown have expressed support for the Markethill District’s tirade against the NI Protocol and resulting Irish Sea border.
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Branding the approval of separate customs arrangements for Northern Ireland as the “greatest crisis” since the creation of the state in 1921, Portadown District said the imposition of the regulatory border is an “act of betrayal”.

The Portadown rallying call at the weekend echoes that made by Markethill on Friday, but stops short of accusing Newry and Armagh DUP MLA, and long-serving Orange Order member, William Irwin of having “voted for an Irish Sea border”.

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The earlier statement from Markethill also includes a reference to DUP minister Edwin Poots which is not included in the Portadown District’s statement on social media.

Portadown District colour party with Drumcree church in the background. Picture:  Freddie Parkinson/Press EyePortadown District colour party with Drumcree church in the background. Picture:  Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Portadown District colour party with Drumcree church in the background. Picture: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

It states: “The [Markethill] district further call on our fellow brother Orangeman, Edwin Poots, the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to immediately stop officials within his department from implementing the Irish Sea border checks.”

In its response, Portadown District said: “The NI Protocol is an act of betrayal of the unionist community and our position as a sovereign part of the United Kingdom.

“Portadown District is well aware of those elected politicians who voted for the Irish Sea Border, now is the time for you to apologise for your past actions and to pledge to do all that you can to bring it down, even if that means disobeying your political leaders.”

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The statement goes on to call for “all unionist parties to take all necessary action to veto the implementation of EU laws through the Stormont Assembly”.

DUP MLA William IrwinDUP MLA William Irwin
DUP MLA William Irwin

The Markethill District comprises 12 lodges with a combined membership of more than 500.

William Irwin posted his own response to the Markethill statement, describing the claim he supported the Irish Sea border as “untrue”.

He said: “As an Orangeman of some 48 years, in the district of Loughgall... I am very disappointed by Markethill District Orange No 10’s untrue claim.

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“I am absolutely at one with the many thousands of unionists across Northern Ireland who find the imposition of this protocol and its outworkings offensive and running contrary to everything we stand for,” he said.

“I did not vote for the protocol nor have I supported it. To suggest otherwise is wrong, disingenuous and it would appear politically motivated.”

Although the overwhelming majority of comments were supportive of the Markethill position, one reply said: “I was stunned to read the alleged Markethill District statement, and if it is authenticated, they have seriously breached protocol for one and the duty of an Orangeman. I sincerely hope a retraction is publicly published and if not Grand Lodge need to step in.”

In response to the latest Portadown District statement, one member said: “As much as I welcome this as an Orangeman, and it’s great to see, the only problem is it won’t make a difference until Grand Lodge publicly make the same statement to which I cant see them doing. I hope I’m proved wrong.”

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The Grand Lodge of Ireland has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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Alistair Bushe