The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Tom Elliott, and UUP Assembly member Danny Kennedy are to face disciplinary proceedings from the Orange Order for attending the funeral mass of PSNI member Ronan Kerr in April.
Under the rules of the Orange Order, members are prohibited from attending Catholic religious ceremonies.
An Orange Lodge in south Belfast’s Sandy Row made a formal complaint to the politicians’ county lodges, claiming the senior politicians had violated rules which state that members should not participate in “an act or ceremony of Popish worship”.
‘St Simon’s Church Total Abstinence’Lodge, from the Sandy Row in south Belfast, whomade the complaint, said the pair had “sold their principles for political expediency”.
Kerr was the only fatality incurred by the British Crown forces in the conflict since 2009, and his funeral became a highly choreographed political event. Despite being members of the Orange Order, a refusal by the two unionists to attend could have overshadowed the ceremonies.
Elliott, who is a former county grandmaster, said he did regret a attending the funeral despite facing disciplinary proceedings.
He said he and Mr Kennedy did what “felt right for the entire society of Northern Ireland and indeed for the Kerr family”.
The issue was greeted with embarrassment at Stormont, with the DUP blankly refusing to comment on the situation.
DUP assembly member and senior member of the Orange Order William Humphrey, insisted the complaint was a ‘private’ matter for the Order.
“I wouldn’t personally comment on other peoples position. I have personally never attended a Catholic Mass,” he said.
“These decisions are a matter for the individual but the Orange Order has its rules.
“The Orange Order deals with its business in private and this matter will be dealt with in private by the institution.”