Belfast Telegraph

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'

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neil and Mary Lou McDonald outside the Palace of Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neil and Mary Lou McDonald outside the Palace of Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Mary Lou McDonald
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

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.

COLERAINE Ellie, Jamie, and Katie, playong at the Coleraine twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Ellie, Jamie, and Katie, playong at the Coleraine twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE For yours eyes only at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE On the march through the streets of Coleraine.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Entertaining the crowd at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Pipers at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Piping his way through Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Orangemen proudly march throigh the streets of Coleraine.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Taking the salute at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Some of the crowd enjoy the Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Drumming in orange at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Anna, Joel, and Ella Cassells, Denise and John Bellingham, Alan Gouldm and Deborah McAuley.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE LOL 259 members on the march at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Ladies from LOL 175 on the march in Coleraine.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE A day off for MLA Claire Sugdon at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Playing the simbols at Coleraine Twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Edenmore Flute Band on the march in Coleraine.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Laqdies from LOL 175 on the march in Coleraine.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE Draped in a Union Jack is Lauren Mc Kane from Ballymoney.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
COLERAINE A young girl show her skills as she leads her band in Coleraine twelfth.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

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."

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