The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has expressed regret and sadness at the passing of Lord Laird of Artigarvan.
The 74-year-old was an active and well-known member of the Orange Order in Belfast throughout his life. He was a founder and active member of Boyne Obelisk Lodge LOL 1690, and the Houses of Parliament lodge at Westminster.
Grand Master Edward Stevenson said: “As well as an articulated advocate for Unionism and Ulster-Scots, Lord Laird was also a proud Orangeman.
“As a parliamentarian, he lobbied on behalf of the Institution and would always have sought to defend and uphold the ideals of Orangeism.
“Spectators at the Belfast Twelfth became accustomed to John in period costume, interacting with the crowds in his own distinctive way. He was a unique character, who will be sadly missed.”
He added: “On behalf of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, I would like to offer the deepest condolences of the entire Institution to the Laird family at this sad time.”
The peer’s private lodge was Royal York LOL 145.
Belfast County Grand Master Spencer Beattie said: “John was truly one of a kind and was highly respected by his fellow Orange brethren across the city and beyond. His absence will be certainly felt at this year’s Twelfth, but no doubt John will be with us in spirit such was his love for the Institution.
“The thoughts of the entire Orange fraternity of Belfast are with the Laird family.”