Belfast Telegraph

SNP should have 'weightier worries' than Arlene Foster: DUP

DUP leader Arlene Foster will attend an Orange Order parade in Scotland later this month (David Young/PA)
DUP leader Arlene Foster will attend an Orange Order parade in Scotland later this month (David Young/PA)

By Michael Shiels McNamee

The DUP has responded to criticism from the SNP ahead of a speech at an Orange parade in Scotland by Arlene Foster later this month.

On Friday it was confirmed the DUP leader would be appearing as a guest speaker at the Boyne demonstration in Cowdenbeath, Fife on June 30.

Ahead of the visit being confirmed, a SNP source said: "We have no knowledge of this visit and are really struggling to believe that Arlene Foster believes that this is a sensible idea."

Responding, a DUP spokesperson said: "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."

It was also confirmed the DUP leader will take part in other events during her time in Scotland.

During her speech Mrs Foster will focus on the need for a shared society, inclusivity for people of different backgrounds living and working in the UK, and combating sectarianism and prejudice against any section of the community - including the Orange Order.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland's executive officer Robert McLean said he believed it is the first time she has attended one of the Boyne celebration parades in Scotland.

He said: "She's been invited to be the guest speaker. The main speech would be by Arlene Foster."

He added that attendance by Northern Ireland politicians at Scottish parades was not unusual and former First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson had done so in the past.

Ms Foster was Northern Ireland's First Minister until the collapse of the powersharing agreement at Stormont last year.

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

Scottish Lib Dem 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."

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Greens' co-convener, 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."

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