Orange Order leader slams ‘silly fuss’ over Arlene Foster speech

Arlene Foster. Picture: AFP/Getty
Arlene Foster. Picture: AFP/Getty
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The leader of the Orange Order in Scotland has slammed the “silly fuss” over Arlene Foster addressing a parade.

The Scottish Grand Master Jim McHarg was speaking during an address to the 12 July parade in Belfast today.

Ms Foster was the main speaker at the parade in Fife on 30 June.

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A number of Scottish politicians questioned the DUP leader’s recent attendance at the event in Cowdenbeath.

The SNP questioned the move, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland said Mrs Foster’s time would be better spent in Northern Ireland working towards restoring the collapsed devolved government.

But Mr McHarg said Mrs Foster received a “rapturous response”.

“No doubt you will have heard about the silly fuss made over the attendance of Arlene Foster at the Cowdenbeath parade,” he said.

“In fact, she was the principal speaker, something that seemed to annoy several of our Scottish politicians.

“I’m afraid that some of their comments only confirmed what we already knew - too many of them are ignorant and prejudiced in their view of the Order.

“To hear them you’d think the Order in Scotland had never had an Ulster politician on an Orange platform before.

“Arlene Foster was very welcome in Scotland and I’m pleased to tell you she received a rapturous reception.”

Thousands of Orange Order members are taking part in 12 July parades across Northern Ireland after a night of sporadic violence in the region.

Masked men hijacked and torched vehicles in and around Belfast amid loyalist anger about moves to reduce the size of two loyalist Eleventh Night bonfires.

In Londonderry republican youths engaged in a fifth successive night of disorder in the Bogside area, throwing petrol bombs at police.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd condemned those involved.

“The disorder we have seen has been caused by a small minority of people who have no regard for their communities,” he said.

While the Twelfth has passed off peacefully in Northern Ireland in recent years - helped largely by the resolution of a long-standing parading flashpoint dispute in Belfast - the overnight disorder means this year’s commemorations take place amid a tense backdrop, with concerns about the prospect of further trouble later today.

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The deal between Orangemen and nationalist residents over arguably the most contentious parade - past the nationalist Ardoyne community in north Belfast - ensured that event again proceeded without incident this morning.
That was one of around 600 feeder parades taking place across Northern Ireland.
Orange members and supporting loyalist bands congregated at 17 host venues for events to mark the 1690 victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne.
It is the biggest date in the Protestant loyal order parading calendar.
Last night 13 vehicles were set on fire in Belfast and surrounding towns.
A suspected pipe bomb also detonated close to a police operation to clear a contentious fire site in Belfast while other security alerts prompted the closure of main roads, with one incident preventing newly arrived passengers exiting Belfast City Airport.
Masked men also used burning cars to block roads close to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald on the outskirts of Belfast, while a bus with passengers on board was hijacked before being set alight in nearby Newtownards.