MEMBERS of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution have urged those involved in the flag protests to do so peacefully.
Senior officers of the Imperial Grand Lodge have condemned recent violence sparked by the decision of Belfast City Council to fly the Union flag only on designated days.
A statement issued after the Lodge’s annual meeting in their headquarters at Edward Street, Ballymoney, said that while the Lodge was disappointed by the decision of Belfast Council to change their policy on the flying of the Union Flag from the City hall, members could not condone the violence which has been ongoing for several weeks.
“Whilst the Institution supports the right of peaceful protest, it will in no way condone violence of any kind and will unreservedly condemn it regardless of its source.
“The Institution would urge all those taking part in future protests to ensure that they are peaceful,” the statement went on.
The Imperial Grand Master, the Rt Wor Bro Alan McLean welcomed all to the meeting. Normal business was conducted and reports given from the County Grand Lodges and Committees.
The Election of Officers saw all retiring officers being returned for another year.
It was reported that it had been a busy year with events surrounding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Balmoral Review and Ulster Covenant being the highlights.
The Institution was pleased to report an increase in membership over the past year.
The Grand Lodge agreed to write to Her Majesty the Queen congratulating her on her Christmas message on Christmas Day 2012..
2012 has been a good year for the Institution and the members are looking forward with renewed vigour to 2013, the statement added.