Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson.
THE Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, Rev William Anderson, has confirmed that all of its demonstrations, processions and services due to take place this summer - including the annual Thirteenth parade in Scarva and the Last Saturday in Killylea have been cancelled.
The organisation said it had taken the decision "in line with the resolution passed by the Central Committee on March 14, 2020, and following ongoing review of that resolution".
The Scarva Sham Fight was scheduled to be held on July 14 this year.
Also cancelled are the following demonstrations:
July 14 – Bangor, Co Down (organised by Lurgan District);
August 1 – Kesh, Co Fermanagh, and Southport, England;
August 8 – Partick, Glasgow, Scotland;
August 29 – “Last Saturday” demonstrations, due to be held this year in Ballyclare (organised by County Antrim Grand Black Chapter); Dromore, Co Down (City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter); Bangor (County Down Grand Black Chapter); Raphoe, Co Donegal (County Londonderry Grand Black Chapter); Killylea, Co Armagh (involving districts from North Armagh and South Tyrone); and Castlederg, Tyrone (involving districts from Omagh, Castlederg and Strabane).
The Sovereign Grand Master said: “While it is regrettable that this decision has to be taken, the coronavirus pandemic means we are living in difficult and uncertain times, and we appreciate completely our obligations under Government regulations that are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future.
“The protection of our members, band members, and all our friends and supporters that take part in and enjoy our processions is paramount, together with our responsibility for the wider community.”
Rev Anderson continued: “Our focus remains on doing all we can to assist with the fight against this terrible virus.
“It has been an extremely difficult time for many, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones.”
Following the cancellation of the Institution’s summer demonstrations, a spokesperson for Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000, organisers of the annual Scarva Sham Fight, said: “We will all miss the sights, the sounds and the pageantry of a day we in RBP 1000 hold very close to our hearts.
“Scarva is a family day, a day for friends who may not see each other from one year to the next but unfortunately it will not feature in our calendar this year.”
The Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, concluded: “I know many of our members and their families will feel a sense of sadness that our demonstrations this summer have had to be cancelled.
“However, we look forward with confidence in Him who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no doubt that in due course our Institution will once again have the opportunity to witness through our processions, services and ongoing charity work, the wonderful saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.”