Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the former Mid Ulster MP, has called on the Orange Order to be ‘big enough’ to invite him to a Twelfth of July commemoration.
In an interview with the Impartial Reporter, the senior Sinn Fein member said the Orange Order should invite him to mark the anniversary of King William III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
He also talked about the need to reach out and how he intends to “build a friendship” with new first minister Arlene Foster.
“I keep meeting people within the community, my community, who say I am doing too much reaching out, who say it is not being reciprocated. I say, that’s not a good enough reason for me to stop doing it and I intend to continue to do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
If that means going to the Twelfth then Mr. McGuinness said he would consider it but only if he was invited by the Orange Order who have accused him in the past of “demonising” them.
Mr. McGuinness who has been critical of some Orange demonstrations in the past says the presence of the Apprentice Boys in his home city of Londonderry “enrich our lives.”
“I think it’s important not to impose yourself on for example the Twelfth of July but I do think what is important is that people are big enough to invite you,” he said, adding: “I would give it very serious consideration.”
“I appreciate what the Twelfth of July means to the unionist community. I take great pride in what happened in my own city, particularly the tremendous work that the Apprentice Boys have been involved in with the local community.
“Derry is peaceful, we never have any concerns about parades of any description denigrating into violence or ignorance or discourtesy. People conduct themselves very well indeed and I take great pride in that. I have consistently paid tribute to the work not just of local residents but of the Apprentice Boys who I do think by their presence in the city enrich our lives,” he said, explaining that he takes “great pride” in the new Siege Museum in Londonderry when he walks past it with his dog Buttons once a week.