Northern Ireland

Second top Orangeman makes Mass U-turn call

Hands holding Rosary beads Image copyright iStock
Image caption The historic rule stops members going to the funerals and weddings of Catholic friends

A second leading Orangeman has backed calls to lift a ban on members of the Order attending Mass in Catholic churches.

On Wednesday, Assistant Grand Master of the Orange Order Mervyn Gibson said his view was that the rule should change.

Now the man who used to hold the same position has publicly agreed.

Speaking to the BBC's Talkback programme, David McNarry said: "It's a discussion the institution needs to have."

The historic rule stops members going to the funerals and weddings of Catholic friends.

Mr McNarry said he had never participated in a mass "or anything like it", but he had gone along to pay his respects on a number of occasions.

He said he had never been challenged on his decision to do that.

Speaking on BBC Northern Ireland's The View the Former First Minster and Orange Order member David Trimble said "It is a matter for the order and for Grand Lodge.

"I am leaving it to them."

In the case of his own attendance at Catholic services he added "In circumstances where I considered it was my civic duty to do that I did it.

"I also did it because in those circumstances it was the decent thing to do.

"I have no regret on that. "

A spokesperson for the Orange Order said the ban was an "internal matter for the institution".

A spokesperson for the DUP, who have a close relationship with the Orange Order, said: "The rules of the orange institution are obviously a matter for the order.

"The party has no policy on this issue, as it is a matter for individual conscience.

"It can be noted that Peter Robinson attended Ronan Kerr's funeral as first minister, but he was also obviously party leader at the time.

"The party has also been represented at other funerals, including, for instance Fr Alec Reid's."

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