Martin McGuinness. RollingNews.ie photo
By Anthony Neeson
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that he is willing to attend Twelfth of July celebrations.
Speaking to the County Fermanagh based Impartial Reporter newspaper, the Sinn Féin man said: “It’s important not to impose yourself, but I do think it’s important that people are big enough to invite you.”
Mr. McGuinnness’s comments come after First Minister Arlene Foster said that she would not attend 1916 commemorations.
The DUP leader has since said that she is willing to attend lectures and exhibitions about the Rising, but ruled out official commemorations.
Speaking about loyal order parades in his own city Mr. McGuinness said: “Derry is peaceful. We never have any concerns of parades of any description degenerating into violence or ignorance. People conduct themselves very, very, well indeed and I take great pride in that.
“I have consistently paid tribute to the work of, not just local residents, but the Apprentice Boys, who I do think by their presence in the city, enrich our lives.”
However, the Orange Order said there were over 300 reasons why they could not invite Mr. McGuinness to their Twelfth celebrations.
“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.
“To offer an invitation to Martin McGuinness would insult their memory and bring further hurt and distress to many families.”
Meanwhile, invites of a different kind, this time to events surrounding the celebrations and commemorations of the 1916 Rising, have been issued.
During a meeting in London on Monday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny invited British Prime Minister David Cameron to Ireland for commemorations of the Easter Rising.
Mr. Cameron said he acknowledged the anniversary of “important events in our shared history.”
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, has also issued an invite of her own, to Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and to a cross-community 1916 event in their shared cross-border diocese of Clogher.