28/04/2006

Former UUP leader attacks Orange leadership

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble, has attacked the leadership of the Orange Order during a speech at the launch of book which also criticised the organisation.

Mr Trimble, who is a member of the Orange Order, said some unionist members had entered into a 'Faustian pact' with elements of the Order in 1998 in an attempt to bring down the Good Friday Agreement.

The comments were made at the launch of a book by Presbyterian minister and Orangeman, the Reverend Brian Kennaway, entitled 'The Orange Order - A Tradition Betrayed', which is believed to criticise the leadership of the Grand Lodge.

During his speech, Mr Trimble said that he was disappointed in the way that senior officials had behaved and added that there was no doubt that the standing of the Order in the community has diminished and was in a more difficult situation than it had been in ten years ago in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement when his enemies within the unionist community were lining up against him.

He said that the Orange Order had been manipulated "with the intention of creating massive public disorder and violence so that it would have a political impact".

However, the DUP's David Simpson, who ousted David Trimble in last years Westminster election, winning the Upper Bann constituency, rejected his comments.

The Upper Bann MP said the former UUP leader needed "to get a grasp of reality".

"I think that if people go back to 1998, they will see that Mr Trimble manipulated the institution in many ways to get the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party."

The Orange Order also rejected comments made in the Reverend Brian Kennaway's book.

In a statement, the Order said that it continues to have a constructive and positive role to play in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland into the future."

It states that the Orange institution remains true to its foundation principles, and any suggestions otherwise are incorrect.

(EF)

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