The true nature of the anti-Catholic Orange Order has been exposed by its decision to appoint a man convicted of killing his wife as a ‘Worshipful Master’ in Tyrone.
Former British soldier Stephen Fulton, who shot his wife Corien Fulton in the head in 1999 and was later convicted of the killing, was recently appointed to a top post in the Order in Tyrone.
The Orange Order is a powerful masonic-style organisation with an exclusively Protestant membership known for its controversial and provocatives parades.
Long blamed for igniting sectarian violence, Sinn Féin’s Linda Dillon has called for the Order Order to now take a tougher stance on violence against women and misogyny.
“All of society must stand against this,” she said. “There must be zero tolerance for misogynistic violence and abuse.”
A former staff sergeant with the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment, Fulton killed his wife, 20 years his junior, when she told him she had met another man.
His sentence was reduced to just five years by a favourable judge on the basis that he had a mental disorder and had been “provoked” by his wife’s plan to leave him.
Despite a public backlash, Mr Fulton’s appointment had support from fellow Orangemen, including one who said he had “served his time and paid his debt to society”.
Others within the institution described the appointment as a “PR disaster”. “It brings shame on the Orange, there is no justification for it,” one said.
“It’s bad enough having a convicted wife killer as a member, but to make him a worshipful grand master is really offensive.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the announcement in the local paper with a big picture of Fulton sitting there among a crowd of senior Orangemen with his sash on.
“This will turn into a big scandal and the Orange is going to get hammered because of it, and rightly so.”
On Monday, a spokesperson for the Ulster Unionist Party said that “steps are being taken to resolve” the controversy.
By Wednesday, the pressure had become too much. In a statement the Orange Order said: “The Officers of Cookstown District LOL No. 3 can confirm that they have accepted the resignation of the Worshipful District Master Stephen Fulton.”
It apologised for any distress caused. “Cookstown District LOL No. 3 now considers this matter to be closed and will not be making any further comment in relation to it.”