A memorial has been unveiled in Londonderry in memory of eight Orangemen murdered during the Troubles.
The Orange tribute remembers brethren from the city and surrounding districts who lost their lives in terrorist atrocities, including the Claudy bombings and Greysteel massacre.
The memorial tablet, which will eventually go on permanent display at the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, was formally dedicated at a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at St Columb’s Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday afternoon.
Joining relatives of the deceased at the religious service were senior members of the Orange Institution, including the Grand Master of the Grand of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, and City of Londonderry Grand Master, James Hetherington.
Mr Stevenson led tributes to those brethren who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
He said: “We must never forget the Orange Order suffered the largest institutional loss for a civilian organisation during the Troubles. This was the result of barbaric, deliberate and calculated murderous attacks, predominantly by republican terrorists, which should be condemned without reservation.
“Whether it be the heinous crimes of Claudy and Greysteel resulting in the multiple murder of innocent civilians, or cold-blooded attacks on members of the security forces in Londonderry and beyond, there can be no justification whatsoever for such inhumanity.
“We owe it to the memory of our murdered brethren to never bow to the perpetrators of such terror.”
“I commend the members of the City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge for their enterprise, which will forever remember the sacrifice of eight local Orangemen,” The Grand Master said.
Mr Hetherington said: “The City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge, through today’s dedication ceremony continues to remember those brethren locally within the Orange Institution who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Troubles. This memorial, once on display following refurbishment of the Memorial Hall, will be a permanent and lasting memorial to each of the eight brethren listed.
“The City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge wishes to place on record their gratitude to funeral directors, Adair and Neely and D&R Hay, for jointly funding the memorial.”
The service of remembrance and thanksgiving – officiated by Very Rev Dean William Morton – was both preceded and followed by an Orange parade.
An offering was also taken up for the benefit of the Lord Enniskillen Memorial Orange Orphan Society and the City of Londonderry Orange Widows Fund.
In April 2011, a memorial stone was dedicated at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, to remember all 332 members of the Orange Institution who lost their lives in the Troubles. This tribute is permanently displayed at the Loyal Order’s headquarters, Schomberg House, in the city.