Belfast Telegraph

Foster told to fix Assembly, not address Orange Order in Scotland

By Rebecca Black

DUP leader Arlene Foster is expected to receive a warm welcome in Scotland next month as she addresses her first Orange Order parade in the nation, calling for a more pluralist UK where all are celebrated.

However, news of her attendance has sparked criticism, with politicians from a number of political parties in Scotland claiming that Mrs Foster's time would be better spent in working to resurrect power sharing at Stormont.

Labour MP Lesley Laird said: "My advice to her would be to channel her energy into getting Stormont back up and running."

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: "With the Northern Ireland Assembly suspended I would have thought that Arlene Foster's time would be better spent reaching across the political divide at home, rather than marching on the streets of a small town in Fife."

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "If Arlene Foster does come across the Irish Sea she'd be better off discussing how to avoid a hard Brexit or learning about the importance of equal marriage or women's access to free, safe and legal abortion, rather than taking part in yet another sectarian march."

A spokesperson for the SNP also criticised the visit.

But a DUP spokesperson hit back last night, saying: "The SNP should have weightier worries about Scotland than Arlene Foster's diary commitments.

"Mrs Foster has accepted an invitation from the Scottish Orange Order to speak at an event later this month. She will deliver the same message in Scotland as in Northern Ireland."

During her address Mrs Foster is expected to speak about the need to build a shared society, calling for a United Kingdom where people feel at home and where they feel comfortable living and working, regardless of their background.

"A United Kingdom where people feel valued will endure," she is expected to say.

"People will be reluctant to leave the Union in such a circumstance.

"There is no place in 2018 for sectarianism or prejudice against any section of our community - that includes the Orange Order."

Mrs Foster is also planning to take part in a number of other meetings during her visit to Scotland.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland confirmed that Mrs Foster will address the parade in Cowdenbeath, Fife, on June 30.

It is expected to be attended by around 5,000 brethren and band members, as well as their supporters.

The organisation's executive officer Robert McLean told the Belfast Telegraph that Mrs Foster is greatly admired by brethren in Scotland for speaking up for unionism.

He believed it will be the first time she has attended one of the major Orange parades in Scotland.

"As far as we are concerned as an organisation, Arlene Foster is a very nice person, at least she stands up for the unionist community in Northern Ireland," he said.

"That voice is missing in Scotland.

"For years it was the Labour, okay the Conservatives have taken a turn in the last few years, but there is no one really speaking up for the Unionist people in Scotland."

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson has also addressed Scottish parades.

Scotland's main Orange Order event will take place on Saturday, July 7.

Belfast Telegraph

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