Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order dismisses Mary Lou McDonald's united Ireland Twelfth celebrations offer

The Orange Order parade annually in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.
The Orange Order parade annually in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald
Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards

The Orange Order has dismissed a suggestion by Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald that the Twelfth of July could be celebrated in the event of a united Ireland.

The Sinn Fein president told the Irish Independent that "everything should be on the table" when asked specifically about the Protestant celebration of William of Orange's victory at the Battle of the Boyne.

However, the Orange Order has told the Belfast Telegraph that it is not interested in engaging in conversations or responding to statements which "merely assist Sinn Fein and nationalists as they continue to talk up the inevitability of a united Ireland".

"Orangemen in many communities across Ireland have experienced republicanism’s intolerance and hatred first-hand," a spokesman said.

The Orange Order's comments come amid controversy over the now-postponed State commemoration in Dublin Castle of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police.

Sinn Fein led calls for the event to be cancelled, saying it would amount to the Irish Government celebrating the Black and Tans.

"Ironically, despite these comments, recent developments in the Republic of Ireland have shown us the reality that Sinn Fein and others are not really interested in equality – or the historical commemoration of anything deemed to be British," the spokesman added.

On whether the Twelfth would be marked in the event of Irish Unity, Ms McDonald said she believed people will "surprise themselves" with what they find acceptable in a united Ireland.

"We, more than any other political party in the Oireachtas, are used to working with, living with, dealing with our unionist neighbours and the Twelfth of July is very widely celebrated as we currently speak."

She added: "Generally speaking, people are decent and reasonable and they want a good life for themselves and for their families and they are happy to accommodate and respect their neighbours so long as that accommodation and respect comes back to them.

"They're kind of the go-to issues when people talk about Irish unity, and that's fine."

Former Ulster Unionist MLA and Orangeman Tom Elliott said that it was a "bit rich" for Ms McDonald to include the Twelfth parades in any Irish border poll debate as people already have the right to march.

"It just shows the twisted nature of Sinn Fein representatives," he said.

"It's almost unbearable to think that as part of a border poll they would look at the right to parade.

"Such nonsense."

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