A MAN has claimed he was verbally abused by Orangemen after he cut through a parade in Lurgan town centre.
The District Master has said the alleged incident is being dealt with ‘head on’ and an apology will be issued if there is a case to answer.
On Sunday, July 8, the man said he was coming out of Sports Direct with his nine-year-old son when they encountered an Orange parade. He said it was raining heavily and they were in a hurry to get to their car that was parked at Tesco.
He said: “I looked up towards High Street and there was Orangemen as far as I could see. It would take quite some time for them all to pass us so I decided to let the band pass then cut in through the Orangemen.
“They were walking at a slow pace and were quite spaced out, enough for us to pass without touching them anyhow.
“As we cut through them dozens of them booed, hissed and shouted at us. As we reached the other side of the road one Orangeman commented to me, ‘You’ll get a slap of the f**king face for doing that’. I replied, ‘That’s some way for a Christian man to speak in front of a child’. He answered ‘You’re lucky. On another day you would have got hit across the head with a sword’. In my stubbornness I replied, ‘Come on then, but I will fight back’.”
The man continued: “Luckily no one approached us, they just slowed down a little as this happened. My son was shocked by this. The looks we got from quite a few of them I will never forget, looks with almost murderous intent.”
He added: “I felt it would be okay to cut in through them. Call me naive perhaps. I had no idea we would receive this reaction or for sure I wouldn’t have crossed between them.”
He added: “At a time when the word ‘tolerance’ is being thrown about so often, I feel it really does not work without tolerance from everyone involved.”
District Master David Martin said: “We’re not going to brush this under the carpet. I’ll be tackling it head on in a personal capacity as district master. If this man is due and apology he’ll get one.
He added: “While he very deliberately cut through the parade, it doesn’t excuse Orangemen of reacting in a way not befitting of Orangemen. Should this turn out to be the case those involved with be dealt with by myself.
“I’ve been in contact with the man who made the complaint with a view to a meeting at Brownlow House. As well as discussing the incident I want to show him round the Castle and hopefully change his perception of Orangemen.”