NORTHERN IRELAND'S Orange Order has secured PPE gear which they will be donating to health care workers across the island of Ireland, north and south.
The Orange Institution have released a statement in which they say they have secured a 'very significant' shipment of Personal Protective Equipment which is much-needed to protect workers in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
The Institution states that a shipment of tens of thousands of masks and aprons, as well as a large quantity of hand sanitiser, will first be distributed to the Order's Grand Lodges and District Lodges, where they will then reach areas in need in both Northern Ireland and counties in the Republic.
The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Wor. Bro. Edward Stevenson, said the Institution hopes the PPE will make "a real difference to local Doctors and nurses, who are at the front line of helping to fight Covid-19 and those providing care and essential services in the community".
The idea to buy and supply PPE, Mr Stevenson said, stemmed from the constant reporting of the dwindling supplies of the equipment-- "we felt it was appropriate that the Orange Institution should try to assist in a practical way".
“This shipment of products, which includes masks, aprons and hand sanitiser will be distributed as widely as possible by our membership, many of whom have already been very active themselves in raising money, sharing much-needed supplies and helping older people in their own communities.”
Ms Stevenson added that he hoped the move would show that "there is more to Orangeism than just our annual parades.
"The current crisis has highlighted the charitable, benevolent and fraternal elements of Order which although always important, are often unseen."
The leader of the Order went on to thank the front line workers fighting the disease , saying the country owes them "a huge debt of gratitude" and referencing the weekly 'clap for carers' which takes place across the UK every Thursday at 8pm.
“It enormously heartening to see the support they are being shown each Thursday evening and I commend everyone who is clapping, playing instruments or doing anything to show their appreciation to the NHS and its staff."
He urged everyone to continue to adhere to social distancing measures impleented by the government to slow the spread of the virus.
“While we look forward to the days when we can get out and about again, it is most important that everyone continues to adheres to the Government guidelines in relation to staying at home and, if you must go out, respect the social distancing advice.”
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by Covid-19 and the health professionals as they work to tackle this awful virus.”
Last month, the Orange Order confirmed the annual Twelfth of July parades would not be going ahead this year due to the spread of the virus.
It is one of the only times since its inception that the parades have been cancelled.