Northern Ireland

McGuinness open to attending Twelfth

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Mr McGuinness said he would seriously consider attending an Orange Order demonstration.

The deputy first minister has signalled he would be willing to attend Twelfth of July celebrations if invited.

Martin 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 continued.

The Orange Order said they would not be extending an invitation to Mr McGuinness.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter newspaper, the Sinn Féin MLA said he appreciated the importance the day held for the unionist community and praised parades held in Londonderry.

"Derry is peaceful," said Mr McGuinness.

"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."

In a statement, the Orange Order said that, while their annual demonstrations are open to the public, they had "over 300 reasons" why they would not invite the deputy first minister to attend.

"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," it said.

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