Orange Order: ‘Over 300 reasons’ why we wouldn’t invite McGuinness

Posted By: January 22, 2016

John Manley. Irish News (Belfast).Friday, January 22, 2016

The Orange Order has said it has no intention of inviting Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to the Twelfth celebrations after the senior Sinn Féin member said he would be willing to attend.

The order said such an invite would be an “insult” the memory of more than 300 of its members who were killed by the IRA and other paramilitary groups during the Troubles.

The Sinn Féin deputy first minister had indicated he was willing to attend the Orange Order’s July 12 celebrations if asked.

Mr McGuinness said he would give any invitation “very serious consideration”.

“It’s important not to impose yourself, but I do think it’s important that people are big enough to invite you,” he told the Impartial Reporter.

The Sinn Féin MLA acknowledged the Twelfth’s importance to Unionists and noted how Apprentice Boys’ parades in his home city of Derry were peaceful.

“We never have any concerns of parades of any description degenerating into violence or ignorance,” he said

“People conduct themselves very, very well indeed and I take great pride in that.”

Mr McGuinness praised the work of Derry residents and the Apprentice Boys in finding a lasting resolution around parades. He said their presence in Derry helped “enrich our lives”.

But despite the deputy first minister’s conciliatory words, the Orange Order has dismissed any suggestion that it would invite Mr McGuinness  to its July 12 celebrations.

Describing the Twelfth as “one of the largest annual festivals in Europe”, the order said all its demonstrations were public and free to attend. However it said there were “over 300 reasons” why it would not extend an invite to Mr McGuinness.

“There were 333 of our brethren murdered during the Troubles, the overwhelming majority by the Provisional IRA, of which Martin McGuinness was a prominent member and proud to belong,” a statement from the Orange Order said.

The order said many of its members who were killed were “serving or retired members of the crown forces”.

“Sinn Féin have never apologised, nor shown genuine remorse, for the murder of the crown forces,” the statement said.

“To offer an invitation to Martin McGuinness would insult their memory and bring further hurt and distress to many families.”

The Orange Order statement also highlighted a “certain irony” in Mr McGuinness’s remarks given Sinn Féin opposition to a number of parades.

“We would view his comments as gesture politics rather than constructive peace building,” the statement said.