And the 12th* Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is….

…Worshipful Brother Edward Stevenson, previously Deputy Grandmaster of Ireland, and currently County Grand Master of Tyrone.  The 55 yr old Farmer from outside Strabane was elected by a majority of the members present at a delayed meeting of Grand Lodge hosted by County Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland comprises of  current office holders, senior office holders from the 13 constituent Counties (9  Ulster, plus Leitrim, Dublin & Wicklow, Belfast and Londonderry City) and one representative from each District Lodge to convey grassroots views.  The method of election is normally simply a proposal, then seconded, any other proposals and a show of hands.

As for an insight into Brother Stevenson, I’m afraid I cant tell you that much, he is a farmer from the other end of Tyrone so don’t know him personally,  but having met him on a few occasions I got the impression he is a quiet man, unlikely to make inflammatory speeches or rouse a rabble you will be glad to hear, but from what I heard holds strongly to his views on what type of organisation he  wishes to see the order become, with the religious and community aspects of a higher importance than the cultural or political elements.

Unlike the previous holder who was an active DUP supporter, Stevenson is reportedly more inclined to the UUP, however I believe he is highly unlikely to interfere in the political process, except when it has direct implications on the Orange Institution or on issues the transcend the various parties, a good example of this is the decision in recent years to discourage political speeches from the platform at 12th of July Parades in Tyrone, an example which maybe other counties will soon follow.

The other impression of Edward Stevenson I always got was that he put the Christian principles of the Orange before any others, something which most of  the membership in rural Tyrone would also shared, but one that is not always as prevalent with more urban membership, as the first Grand Master from outside of Belfast for a generation there will be the possibility of a clash of culture on some occasions, but as the role does not carry as much power as the title suggests I can’t see him being a divisive figure within the Order.

Finally I would like to pay tribute Bobby Saulters for his service over the last 14 years, I occasionally despaired of his political dabbling and foot-in-mouth comments, but he was always a down to earth gentleman who had time to talk to everyone and took a genuine interest in the welfare of the membership.  I would like to wish Edward well and trust he will lead with integrity and vision.

*several others are also acknowledged as de-facto Grand-Master during periods when Grand Lodge was not in operation.

  • Sean Og

    Who were the other 10?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Grand Masters, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland:[118]

    William Blacker
    Thomas Verner
    George Ogle
    Mervyn Archdale
    Earl O’Neill
    Duke of Cumberland
    Earl of Roden (unofficial up to this point)
    Earl of Enniskillen
    Earl of Erne
    James Stronge
    Edward Archdale
    Joseph Davison
    J. M. Andrews
    William McCleery
    George Clark
    John Bryans
    Martin Smyth
    Robert Saulters

  • Rory Carr

    May I, an Irish Catholic, republican and communist (all the bogeymen of Orangeism rolled into one), offer my congratulations to Mr Stevenson on his election to the position of Grand Master and add my wishes that, during his term of office, the Orange Order might, by its own future efforts, win for itself widespread recognition as an organisation first and foremost committed to religious tolerance for all – its very own long-held yet little believed claim.

  • DR,

    William Blacker, a Republican who became an Orangeman – according to the Blacker Diaries

  • Just listening to the new GM on Evening Extra. Good to know that Grand Lodge have yet again gone for the media savvy option. With my new digital radio i could almost touch the charisma.

  • Rory Carr

    Nice link there, Nevin. Blacker seems to have been as fired by republicanism almost to the same degree as Tony Blair was fired by socialism, both before switching to the more profitable option.

  • cushyglenn

    Don’t necessarily think so Rory.
    Like many of the United Irishmen of the 1790s in Ulster who became converted to the idea of the Union he probably reacted against the actual sectarian outworkings of the rebellion. Never a lot of profit in being an Orange cleric either- irksome to the heirarchy