The dedication of the brethren who maintain the weekly protest at Drumcree was praised during the address at the field on The Twelfth.
Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge in Ireland Harold Henning commended the officers for their efforts at mediation and their offer to talk to the residents.
He said, “The Parades Commission continues to make ludicrous decisions against our traditional processions. There seems to an ongoing effort to suppress our cultural expression and religious freedom. The current legislation needs to be replaced with fair and equal laws, removing the republican veto.”
He urged the Government to introduce new parading legislation which would bring the protestors and objectors to the same level as parade organisers.
Mr Henning also congratulated Co Armagh members on the hard work and arrangements for the day and paid tribute to their continuous endeavours to promote the institution.
He said, “I would mention in particular the County Armagh Orange Community Network who recently received the Queen’s Award. The work they do is immense and can only be good for the future of Orangeism in this county and throughout this jurisdiction.”
He also referred to the recent visit of Prince Charles to Loughgall, the birthplace of Orangeism, and to the men of the 36th Ulster Division, including Orange brethren, who died at the Battle of the Somme.
Mr Henning added, “What a turnout there has been today but this institution needs more. We need our brethren back who have drifted away, we need to encourage our young people into membership of the Loyal Orders. We need to encourage our band members to join the Orange Institution.
“We need to ensure our members are involved in churches and schools and that church leaders play a part and stand by our own community, and think of the mission field at home as well as overseas.”
He said that the start of arrangements to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation next year “will focus attention on the fundamental principles of our cause”.