Northern Ireland

Orange Order attend service for Ulster Covenant centenary

Edward Carson signing the Ulster Covenant
Image caption Unionist leader Edward Carson signed the Ulster Covenant in September 1912.

Several hundred members of the Orange Order have attended a service at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

It formed part of the unionist campaign against British government proposals to introduce Home Rule in Ireland.

Speaking at the service, the Orange Order chaplain, Reverend Mervyn Gibson said the organisation had played an integral part in the formation of the covenant.

"I think the Orange Order was the glue that held the unionist people together," he said.

"They were the ones that provided the manpower for the unionist club. They were the ones involved in organising much of what went on on Covenant Day itself.

"They were pivotal to the politics of the day. I think I'd like to see people celebrate their history, their culture and indeed their Britishness but in a way that respects all traditions."

Meanwhile, the Stormont estate will host the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland's Covenant centenary parade later this year.

It is understood to be the first time in living memory that the estate will have hosted a formal Orange event.

The parade will involve a march from Belfast city centre to a rally at Stormont.

In total, 237,368 men signed the covenant at Belfast City Hall, while 234,046 women signed a parallel declaration of their opposition to Home Rule.

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