Arlene Foster invited to lead Orange Order march in Scotland

DUP leader Arlene Foster has been invited to lead an Orange walk in Fife. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster has been invited to lead an Orange walk in Fife. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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She is the leader of the party propping up Theresa May’s Government and one of the dominant forces in Ulster unionism.

Now Arlene Foster has been invited to lead a major Orange Order march in Scotland. The Northern Ireland Assembly member is expected to be the star guest at the Boyne demonstration in Cowdenbeath, Fife, later this month.

It is not known if the DUP leader, who signed a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Conservatives following last year’s general election, will attend any political meetings when in Scotland.

“Rather than being seen as controversial, this should actually be seen a major coup for the Orange Order in Scotland, to have someone of Ms Foster’s level attend and speak,” a source in Northern Ireland told the Scottish Sun.

“This is a person who is highly influential with Theresa May and regardless of what you think of her views, she is a stateswoman who has rubbed shoulders with Nicola Sturgeon as a devolved leader.”

READ MORE: Football and Orange marches ‘main contributor’ to sectarianism in Scotland

Ms Foster was Northern Ireland’s First Minister until January 2017 when the Stormont power-sharing agreement collapsed.

The DUP have come in for criticism in recent days for their hardline opposition to abortion rights. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where women cannot access abortion clinics. The Republic of Ireland moved a step closer to legalising the process following a historic vote last week.

Robert McLean, executive officer at The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, told the newspaper: “Arlene Foster is the guest speaker and will be at the front of the parade.

“She will be the main speaker on the platform.”

A DUP spokesperson said: “We can confirm that DUP leader Arlene Foster has been invited to attend an event by Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland. This event is due to have representatives of the Orange Order from Northern Ireland and Scotland.”