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Dame Arlene Foster spoke to GB News management about ‘opportunity' of bringing the ‘pageantry’ of the Twelfth to audiences in live broadcast

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Dame Arlene Foster says she's looking forward to providing live commentary for the Twelfth parade in Armagh on GB News (PA).

Dame Arlene Foster says she's looking forward to providing live commentary for the Twelfth parade in Armagh on GB News (PA).

PA

Dame Arlene Foster says she's looking forward to providing live commentary for the Twelfth parade in Armagh on GB News (PA).

Dame Arlene Foster has confirmed she spoke to “senior management” at GB News in order to persuade the channel to offer live coverage of the Twelfth of July celebrations.

On Tuesday the channel announced the decision to broadcast live from this year’s largest parade in Armagh with the programme is expected to last around one hour.

It comes after the BBC last week confirmed they plan to replace live coverage of the parades with edited evening highlights.

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme, the former first minister revealed she had “quite a lot of people” who contacted her over the controversial decision and said she felt it was “an opportunity for GB News”.

Dame Arlene, who presents on the channel and will front the coverage, added: “I spoke to senior management, and we then reached out to the Orange institution and it has all snowballed from there in very quick time.

“It is really the Grand Orange Lodge in control of what is the best coverage. The Armagh Twelfth is the biggest Twelfth and it will also have a wide variety of bands.”

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She added: “I am [nervous] but I always think you should challenge yourself. This is outside broadcasting which is different.

“I am really looking forward to the challenge, I think it is a great opportunity.”

Exactly a year ago when stood down as Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Dame Arlene said she was looking forward to “fresh challenges” and she took those on in the form of her new role as a broadcaster with the TV channel.

"It is a year since I left local politics. It was a very seminal moment but I look back with pride at what we achieved but I always look forward,” she added.

"The stress and anxieties that come with being first minister and being leader of the party are well known. Everybody tells me I look a lot younger now, which is great.”

The Orange Order’s Grand Secretary, Rev Mervyn Gibson, told BBC Evening Extra on Tuesday the organisation had been working with GB News to plan the coverage.

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The Orange Order have been involved in the planning of the Twelfth coverage on GB News.

The Orange Order have been involved in the planning of the Twelfth coverage on GB News.

The Orange Order have been involved in the planning of the Twelfth coverage on GB News.

Dame Arlene said the coverage would appeal to those beyond just the UK and Ireland and said the channel expects viewers from around the world.

“We think it is a great offering and actually it gives us the opportunity to talk about the Twelfth and talk about the fact it is not just celebrating the Battle of the Boyne, but the glorious revolution, which had an impact on the whole UK.

“Because of the length in Belfast, it is just flute bands that take part. Whereas in country Twelfth’s, we have a wide variety of bands, accordions, flutes pipes and brass bands.

“We will be able to cover all that pageantry and we are very much looking forward to doing that.

Last week, a BBC NI spokesperson insisted the significance of the Twelfth celebrations will be properly acknowledged.

“We know that the Orange tradition is important for many people and that it forms part of the wider diversity of local society… this is something that we’ll want to describe and explain as part of our 12 July coverage — and more generally.”


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