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Orangemen in trouble for attending Catholic PSNI funeral

TWO senior Ulster Unionists are facing disciplinary proceedings by the Orange Order for attending the funeral of a murdered Catholic PSNI officer.

UUP leader Tom Elliott and Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy are the subject of a complaint made by a Sandy Row lodge after attending Constable Ronan Kerr’s funeral in May.

Mr Kerr was killed after a booby-trap car bomb exploded at his home in Omagh in April this year.

The funeral in his home town of Beragh was attended by hundreds from across the political divide, and saw GAA members standing with the PSNI.

Mr Elliott and Mr Kennedy are both involved in the Orange Order, which forbids its members from attending Catholic mass.

Mr Elliott is a former County Grand Master of Fermanagh, while Mr Kennedy is a prominent member in Armagh.

It is believed St Simon’s Church Total Abstinence LOL 821 from Sandy Row has written a letter of complaint, stating the senior UUP men “have sold their principles for political expediency” and “should have known better”.

The Belfast Telegraph understands the complaint will be dealt with at County Grand Lodge level at the next Fermanagh and Armagh meetings, which could be as early as next month.

However, an Orange Order spokesman said: “The complaint procedure within the Orange Institution is a private matter.”

A statement from the UUP said party members “work to build a better future for all”.

“In his role as a member of the PSNI, Ronan Kerr was playing his part in working towards that better future and sadly he lost his life in doing so,” the statement said.

While the Orange Order holds the rule that members may not attend Catholic services, it is believed that no-one has ever been formally disciplined for doing so.

The lodge is the only one out of 1,200 in Northern Ireland and the Republic to complain about Mr Elliott and Mr Kennedy’s attendance at the funeral.

Irish Independent