A “wonderful family day out” was had as the Royal Black Institution in Fermanagh delivered its annual parade on Saturday, according to the Loyal Order’s top official.

Sovereign Grand Master William Anderson was speaking after approximately 30 preceptories, accompanied by as many bands, descended on the village of Brookeborough.

Hosted this year by Brookeborough Victoria RBP 487, the Fermanagh parade commemorates the 1689 Battle of Newtownbutler.

Reverend Anderson, who took part in the parade, said: “We’ve enjoyed a fantastic day here in the lovely village of Brookeborough, witnessing for the Reformed Christian Faith and celebrating our history and culture.”

He continued: “Along the route I’ve observed different generations enjoying the music and colour of our parade – it really has been a wonderful family day out.

“My thanks to the Worshipful Master and Officers of Brookeborough for hosting the parade and making all of the excellent arrangements,” the Sovereign Grand Master added.

The 1,000-strong parade – boosted by visiting Sir Knights from Cavan, Monaghan and other counties - assembled at the Lisnaskea Road before walking through the village at 12.30pm to the Demonstration Field at Coolcoghill. Platform proceedings were chaired by County Fermanagh Grand Master Tom Elliott.

Following the event, the Grand Master commented: “It was a pretty successful day. We had quite a number of visitors from other parts of Northern Ireland, from the Republic of Ireland, from Canada so it was successful in that respect.”

He continued: “It was a relatively low key event because it is mainly a religious service and a commemoration as such, remembering the Battle of Newtownbutler but we don’t call it a celebration, it’s a commemoration.” He added: “It was good to see so many visitors, some of those who came for the weekend. “That’s always nice to see, we get a lot of support from many other areas.”

Highlighting that raising money for charity was of “particular significance” at the commemoration event, the Grand Master said: “The charities on the day were Parkinson’s UK and Fermanagh Parkinson’s Support group so we are always pleased to help and support them.”

The preacher during the religious service was Canon Alan Irwin. The resolutions – on faith, loyalty and constitutional - were read by Assistant Sovereign Grand Master William Baillie. The principal speaker on the resolutions was Sovereign Grand Master Rev. William Anderson.

In his speech, Rev. Anderson lamented how, in the modern world, many people view the Bible as “old, dry, historical material with little or no relevance” but he identified a resemblance between that “idolatrous angry nation of people that poor Moses had to contend with and our own nation today.”

Rev. Anderson said: “What a picture that sets before us today. We too are a people who want to break free, who don’t want to be controlled by God. But yet that which we crave for will quickly enslave us to the devil himself. Simply put, without God in our lives we will end up being slaves to sin itself.”

Praising the Queen for her reign of stability, mutual respect and understanding, Rev Anderson contrasted this with “the modern liberalisation of our society (which) says that we must tear down all boundaries”.

“You see my friends, without boundaries, without guidelines, without true respect for one another, then we become simply an ignorant self-centred tribe of people, that will turn upon itself,” he warned.

Rev. Anderson appealed to political leaders “to clearly understand the over-whelming demand from the peoples of this nation for leadership that delivers trust amongst the law-abiding people”. He said: “Too many today have conned the people into thinking that by pushing an agenda based on respect and equality that they can somehow or other deliver a utopia that does not exist.”

Rev. Anderson continued: “Too many families throughout this land of ours have experienced horrific scenes of seeing loved ones being shot in the back; of children being denied the love of a father or mother simply because they were Protestant, or they wore the uniform of Her Majesty’s Services.”

“Friends, respect for them can only come through a long rebuilding of trust in friend and neighbour, it cannot be engineered, bought or demanded of them.”

The Sovereign Grand Master said that “democracy, where the majority have the final say, is the only way to govern our people” and called on the new Prime Minister and all politicians “to deliver a stable and united government for the people so that all will be able to understand what is right and what is wrong as set out in God’s Word”.

The Fermanagh parade takes place ahead of the traditional Royal Black “Last Saturday” demonstrations, hosted this year on August 31 at six different venues – Ballymoney, Dungannon, Holywood, Ballygowan, Garvagh and Seskinore.