Drumcree confrontation: Minister's past links to order revealed

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Adam Ingram, the Northern Ireland security minister, was a teenage member of the Orange Order, it was disclosed in Belfast.

The revelation will feed nationalist suspicion of government bias, but there were similar mutterings from loyalists when Michael Ancram, a Roman Catholic, was appointed Conservative minister responsible for political talks.

The Orange Order is strong in Glasgow, where Mr Ingram grew up. The Northern Ireland Office said in a statement: "Thirty-four years ago, at the age of 16, Mr Ingram was a member of the junior Orange lodge for about a year. He has not been a member of that, or any other loyal orders, since."

A Labour MP said: "Put it this way, he's a strong Rangers supporter." But Mr Ingram does appear to have broken tribal lore in one vital regard - he is married to a Roman Catholic.