DUP leader Arlene Foster to attend Orange Walk in Fife town

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP
Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP

News that Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, is to attend an Orange Walk in Fife has not gone down well with politicians in the Kingdom.

She is due to attend the gathering in Cowdenbeath on June 30.

Ms Foster was First Minister in Northern Ireland until the collapse of the power-sharing agreement saw parliament at Stormont suspended.

Her party also entered a coalition to prop up Theresa May’s Conservative Party after the last General Election.

It is understood to be the first time she has attended an Orange Walk in Scotland.

She will be the main speaker at the event which is one of the biggest in the east coast and will bring lodges from across Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians to town.

Reports have suggested her speech will focus on inclusivity for people of different backgrounds, and combating sectarianism and prejudice against any section of the community – including the Orange Order.

She is also expected to take part in other events during her visit to Scotland.

But her presence has sparked criticism from Fife’s leading politicians.

Lesley Laird MP, whose constituency includes Cowdenbeath, said: “My advice to her would be to channel her energy into getting Stormont back up and running.”

Similar comments came from the Lib Dem and Green leaders in Scotland.

Willie Rennie MSP and leader of the Lib Dems, said: “With the Northern Ireland Assembly suspended, I would have thought that Arlene Foster’s time would be better spent reaching across the political divide at home rather than marching on the streets of a small town in Fife.”

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Greens’ co-convener, said: “If Arlene Foster does come across the Irish Sea she’d be better off discussing how to avoid a hard Brexit, or learning about the importance of equal marriage or women’s access to free, safe and legal abortion, rather than taking part in yet another sectarian march.”

Prominent Northern Ireland politicians have attended Orange events in Scotland in the past, including former First Minister and DUP leader, Peter Robinson.