Orange Order refuses to invite Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald to Twelfth celebrations
Order said any such invite 'would insult memory of murdered members'
The Orange Order has said it will not be inviting Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald to its Twelfth celebrations, saying any such invite would add "further hurt and distress" to the families of Orangemen murdered by the IRA during the Troubles.
The comments from the Orange Order come after the Sinn Fein president said she would go to Twelfth of July celebrations "if she was invited".
Check out pictures from last year marches: Belfast - Annalong - Beragh - Cloughmills - Ballymena - Cookstown - Lisbellaw- Hillsborough - Bangor - Kilrea - Ballynahinch - Coleraine - Cullybackey - Clogher - Richhill - Newtownabbey - Broughshane - Banbridge - Ardoyne
In an interview with the News Letter, the Sinn Fein leader also said she was sorry for the "hurt " suffered by members of the Orange Order during the Troubles. She also said she would like to meet the Order, adding: "I think it's important."
Around 300 members of the Orange Order were killed during the Troubles.
However, an Orange Order spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph: "All our demonstrations are public, and anyone is free to attend them. However, the Orange Institution will not be issuing a specific invitation to the Sinn Fein President, to attend any of our Twelfth celebrations.
"Such an invitation would insult the memory of our murdered members and bring further hurt and distress to many families.”
“Grand Lodge has a longstanding policy of not meeting with Sinn Fein. The current comments by Mrs McDonald do not alter that position.
“Any apology for murder is between those making it and the families of the bereaved. The sincerity of the apology will be judged by the actions of those making it.”
Asked by the News Letter if she would specifically say sorry to the Orange Order and to admit scores of its members had been murdered by the IRA, Mrs McDonald said: "Of course, I am sorry that members of the Orange Order were hurt. Yes. And I'm sorry that anybody was hurt.
She added: “You can play games on these issues. I’ve no interest in that ... that’s not getting us anywhere. I’m sorry that anybody got hurt; I’m sorry the whole bloody... that any of that happened, from start to finish."
Belfast Telegraph Digital