The Royal Black Institution’s annual Sham Fight at Scarva next month has been cancelled.
The institution has taken the decision to cancel the Thirteenth of July celebrations for the second year in a row due to health and safety concerns surrounding Covid.
At the same time, the Royal Black Institution is looking forward to a resumption of activity this summer.
Following the recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland, the Institution’s Central Committee have agreed a set of guidelines that will enable meetings, processions and services to take place.
The guidelines, which have been conveyed to Preceptories, came into effect from June 1, 2021.
Central Committee stressed that the safety and wellbeing of all members must be paramount and no events should take place that would in any way compromise the health of those taking part.
In order to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations, many Royal Black events will be planned on a smaller scale than normal, thereby allowing members to safely hold a public service of worship and also lay wreaths at local war memorials in memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice.
Remembrance of those who lost their lives to Covid-19, as well as thanksgiving for all the inspiring work of NHS, medical and care staff, will also form part of Royal Black services.
However, it says that, unfortunately, it is clear that the popular Scarva Sham Fight, which routinely attracts crowds of up to 100,000, cannot be held in a way that would meet with Covid-19 considerations, and therefore the event has been cancelled for a second year in a row.
The organisers of the Scarva Sham Fight, Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000, have plans to mark the day in an appropriate fashion.
Sovereign Grand Master, Rev William Anderson, said: “It is good that our Institution here in Northern Ireland can make a move towards our normal pattern of activities, however, not everything will be able to return to normal immediately.
“The restrictions on numbers that are permitted to be part of an outdoor event will have an impact on our normal programme of services and processions. This means that for this year, to keep the numbers on parade below the current limit of 500 people, some of our events will have to be undertaken at District or local level.
“The impact also means that the annual procession and Sham Fight in Scarva will not be able to take place this year, but I know that the Sir Knights of RBP 1000 will mark the day in a dignified manner – and they will return in 2022 with a Sham Fight that is bigger and better than ever!”
Regarding other major processions of the Royal Black Institution in Northern Ireland, in particular the traditional Last Saturday demonstrations at the end of August, Rev Anderson said that Central Committee were constantly monitoring the situation and further announcements would be made at the appropriate time.
The Sovereign Grand Master encouraged all Sir Knights to attend their monthly Preceptory meetings and keep up to date with local events.