The Orange Institution has unveiled a new stained glass window in memory of members who were murdered during the Troubles.
The contemporary tribute, which will form the centrepiece of a specially constructed lodge room at the new Museum of Orange Heritage, commemorates the 332 brethren and Orangewomen, many of whom served with the security forces, who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Dedicated at the Institution’s Belfast headquarters on Tuesday evening, it will serve as a constant reminder of the loss suffered by the Loyal Order during the terrorist campaign. Its installation was funded entirely from the sale of memorial badges within the Orange fraternity.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, welcomed the installation, describing it as a “stunning tribute”.
“This impressive memorial window visibly honours the sacrifice of our murdered members and permanently preserves their memories for generations to come,” he said.
“In what has been a sensitive process, we are very pleased with the contemporary design which we feel suitably embraces the past, as well as the future, in a both a respectful and poignant way.
“When I was elected as Grand Master four years ago, I made a pledge the innocent victims of the Troubles and their families would remain a key priority for the Orange Institution. The presence of the memorial window, which will be viewed and reflected upon by large numbers of visitors to our new interpretative centre, will ensure the memories of our murdered brethren are never forgotten.”
Designed by Glass Marque in Dunmurry, it took six months to complete and was created in close consultation with the membership of the Institution’s murdered brethren committee.
A series of open evenings are planned to allow relatives to view the window, which will complement a memorial stone at Orange headquarters that was unveiled in 2011 and the memorial garden in the grounds of Schomberg House.
There are also plans by the Institution to publish a book, highlighting its loss during the Troubles.
Committee secretary David Scott said: “It was always our intention, in consultation with Orange Lodges and Districts, to unveil a memorial window.
“I would like to personally thank all families who engaged with us throughout this process, and to all those in the Orange fraternity who purchased a commemorative badge.
“The committee, under the chairmanship of Robert Abernethy, should also be recognised as without their dedication and foresight this project would simply not have been possible.”
The dedication ceremony comes as final preparations are made ahead of the scheduled opening of the new Museum of Orange Heritage later this month.
The major outreach project, along with the redevelopment of Sloan’s House in Loughgall, are part of the REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage) which received £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.