Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Wor. Bro. Edward Stevenson
The Orange Order has taken the decision to cancel its Twelfth of July celebrations this year in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Parades had been due to take place at 17 locations in Northern Ireland, plus the annual parade in the Donegal seaside resort of Rossnowlagh. The Order will look at alternative ways of marking the Twelfth in 2020.
The decision has been taken in consultation with Grand Masters in England and Scotland and is in line with government health advice on self-isolation, social distancing and restriction of gatherings.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Wor. Bro. Edward Stevenson said the decision was taken in the best interests of members, their families and the wider community.
He said: "It is with regret that I must cancel the 2020 Boyne Anniversary Parades.
"In the current circumstances, the gathering of hundreds of thousands of Orangemen and women, together with their accompanying bands and spectators, would not be responsible
“I appreciate that our culture and traditions are very much a way of life for the Orange family, however in light of the current situation, we must prioritise the safety of not only our members, but of the entire community.
“For some, the coming days will be extremely painful. We must bear in mind that for many people there will be no return of normal life. They will have lost loved ones.
“The Orange Family has already lost members to this terrible virus whilst others are currently in hospital. I would encourage you to pray for all those who have been or will be affected by the Coronavirus and for those in our health service and other essential jobs who are working so hard to fight it.”
During the First and Second World Wars, parades were not held and there was also a cessation during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic.
The Grand Master added: "We look forward to the day that we can parade in celebration once again, however in the months ahead it is more important we work together to fight this terrible disease.
"The energies and resources of our Institution are focussed on the fight against Coronavirus."
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