A love of the land has no price…

THE Irish News yesterday reported that the Orange Order is linked to the Ulster Land & Property Company (motto “Ulster is being sold, help us buy it”), which was founded to prevent “property falling into nationalist hands”. AFAIK, there is still no law to prevent refusals to sell land or property to a buyer based on that person’s (perceived) religion in Northern Ireland.Barry McCaffrey writes: [A] letter written by Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters contradicts the order’s denial that it is linked to the ULPC.

In the letter dated February 4 2002, Mr Saulters wrote to Orangemen, urging financial support for the company.

The letter, written on Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland headed paper and marked ‘confidential’, states: “You will recall that last year we had to postpone a major conference on the expansion of the ULPC.

“You will also recall at that time I referred to your invitation to attend as one of the most important letters I have written as Grand Master.”

In the letter Mr Saulters confirms that the ULPC had bought property worth more that £1m since its formation, claiming the purchases had “helped to build confidence in Protestant communities”.

He wrote that the order hoped to have an additional five per cent of its members subscribe to the ULPC by July 12 2002, adding: “The strategic importance of achieving this goal cannot be over emphasised.”

While Mr Saulters was unavailable for comment yesterday, an order spokesman defended the links to the ULPC.

“The letter was simply the Grand Master trying to recruit more subscribers for ULPC because he thinks it is something Orangemen might be interested in. The more subscribers there are, the more viable it is,” he said.

The spokesman denied that ULPC had been set up to stop nationalists acquiring land and added: “It is clearly there to promote Protestant culture and community but I can’t imagine it would base its loans criteria on preventing nationalists from buying land.”