THE Orange Order has expelled former Ireland international rugby player Davy Tweed after he was convicted of 13 child sex abuse offences.
Tweed was found guilty on Wednesday by a jury at Antrim Crown Court of sexually abusing two girls over an eight-year period.
The Orange Order suspended Tweed’s membership earlier this month, when details of the case became public, due to a court decision to lift reporting restrictions that had prevented the media from identifying the accused.
On Thursday, an Orange Order spokesman said: “Mr Tweed’s conviction automatically terminates his membership of the Institution”.
It is understood Orange Order rules allow immediate action to be taken against its members.
Tweed is also a Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) Ballymena councillor and a member of the Royal Black Institution (RBI).
A spokesman for the RBI said the process of expelling Tweed from the organisation has begun.
The convicted councillor is due to be sentenced in the New Year, after victim impact assessments have been carried out.
He joined the TUV in November 2010 but his membership was put on hold when he was charged with the sex abuse offences.
In a statement, the party said: “TUV notes the conviction of Cllr David Tweed of offences relating to a period long before he was a member of this party.
“Cllr Tweed’s party membership, in accordance with party rules, has been suspended since he was charged.
“We respect the jury’s verdict and Mr Tweed’s rights of appeal.”
Unlike the Orange Order, the RBI’s internal disciplinary procedures take longer to implement.
The organisation had previously suspended him in 2009 after he was charged by police in a separate child abuse case.
However, Tweed was reinstated after he was cleared of sexually abusing two girls.
A spokesman for the RBI said on Thursday: “Following the conviction of David Tweed the process began yesterday (Wednesday) to expel him from the institution.”
Tweed remains an elected member of Ballymena Borough Council, to which he was first elected in 1997.
In a statement, the council said: “We will be considering this matter in conjunction with the relevant electoral legislation; however, no final decision can be made on the matter until the exact sentence is known.”
Tweed, who has been remanded in custody, has two previous convictions unrelated to the abuse case.
In 2008 he was convicted of drink-driving. In 1997, he was fined for assaulting a man in a Ballymoney pub.
The 53-year-old, who played rugby for both Ireland and Ulster, is currently suspended from the TUV party.