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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Order to 'kick out' sex offenders
Johnny Caldwell
BBC News website

The policy on sex offenders will be in place within a year
Sex offenders' membership of the Orange Order will be automatically terminated under a new policy.

"The last time we updated our internal discipline procedures there was no such thing as the Sex Offenders' Register," said Grand Secretary Drew Nelson.

"Our new policy with regards to sex offenders should be in place within a year."

It will mean that anyone on the Sex Offenders' Register will effectively bar themselves from membership.

Mr Nelson said: "I don't think this will be a bigger issue for the Orange Order than anyone else, but it's definitely something that has to be addressed and it's one of a number of issues we're currently working on."

In the past the organisation has come in for criticism over members who were convicted of terrorism-related offences remaining within its ranks.

Addressing this issue, Mr Nelson said: "Our discipline review will look at members with any kind of serious conviction."

Looking forward to the summer, which sees the highlight of the Orange calendar, 12 July, Mr Nelson said: "It should hopefully be peaceful and successful.

"I think those opposed to our parades on principle, if you like, are becoming increasingly isolated."

The origins of the Orange Order date from the 17th century battle for supremacy between Protestantism and Catholicism.

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