The inaugural Orange Victims’ Day has been held on the same date in 2018. The majority of the 342 victims were murdered whilst serving as members of the security forces.
Other events are being organised by the order locally around Northern Ireland to mark the occasion, which was also intended to highlight the ongoing plight of the injured and bereaved.
The date, 1 September, has been chosen for the annual event as it is the anniversary of the largest loss of life inflicted on the Orange family from a single terrorist attack; The IRA murdered four Orangemen, with a fifth later dying from his injuries, in an attack on Tullyvallen Orange Hall in south Armagh on the same date in 1975.
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 service at St. Anne’s Parish Church, Dungannon, hosted by The Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland.
After the service, conducted by the Rev Bryan Martin, a wreath-laying ceremony, was held at the 8th Bn. UDR Memorial in the church grounds.
Speaking afterward, Orange Order Grand Master Edward Stevenson said Victims’ Day continued to be one of “remembrance and reflection” for the Orange family, while aspiring to give “hope for the future” for those left bereaved and injured.
He also took the opportunity to emphasise the commitment of the Orange Institution to continuing to lobby at every available opportunity on behalf of innocent victims.
“Orange Victims’ Day is of great importance to our Institution as it gives us the opportunity to remember the sacrifice of the 341 Orangemen and one Orangewomen who had their lives taken during the Troubles," he said. “And while we remember and mourn those lost, we also remember and give our support to the bereaved families.
“The Orange Institution is constant in its commitment to giving our full support to the innocent victims and, over the past 12 months, we have continued to engage and work with those in the victims sector to ensure their voice is heard.
“We are steadfastly committed to ensuring that the history of the needless and unjustified campaign of terror waged on our Country is not re-written by those who wrought so much pain and destruction on our community.”
He added “In the coming days, Brethren, Sisters, Juniors and our many friends will come together in Orange Halls and churches across Northern Ireland as they take part in events to remember those who lost their lives in their areas,” he said.
“There will be events both big and small, from simple wreath-laying ceremonies to larger parades to church services. Each in its own right a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives.”