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Former first minister Arlene Foster to front live Twelfth coverage on GB News

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-06-14

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Former Northern Ireland first minister Dame Arlene Foster is set to front live coverage of the region’s annual Twelfth of July parades.

GB News is set to broadcast live from Armagh city on July 12 where the largest of this year’s parades is expected to be held.

It comes after a decision announced by the BBC last week not to provide live coverage this year.

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That decision was criticised by the Orange Order which puts on the parades at cities and towns across Northern Ireland every July 12 to mark King William’s victory over King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Dame Arlene, who is now a GB News presenter, said she was “incredibly proud of GB News for stepping up to fill a void left by the national broadcaster”.

“One of the reasons I joined GB News was to bring a better understanding of Northern Ireland life and culture to a wider UK audience,” she said.

“GB News stands for inclusion, of all regional voices, and the Orange parades are core to our voice in Northern Ireland.”

GB News said it will focus on the largest of this year’s Orange parades, which will take place in Armagh.

Orange Order grand secretary Mervyn Gibson said it is “great news for the people of Northern Ireland, particularly those who don’t get out to see the parade”.

“Those who are stuck at home, housebound, those in care homes, they’ll be able to watch the parade live which is great news for them,” he told the BBC.

He revealed the announcement comes after consultation between the Orange Order and GB News, a site visit and discussion to select which parade it would broadcast live from.

“The BBC for years just covered Belfast and in recent years began to stretch out into other rural parades, but this year we’re going to Armagh and it’ll be the full Armagh parade on television,” he said.

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Mr Gibson said there had been no consultation before the BBC’s decision not to provide live cover of the event this year.

“They just sprung it on us, there was no preparation around what we can do in the future, so we had to look at alternatives ourselves so it actually doesn’t let the BBC off the hook,” he said.

“I think there are a lot of questions to be answered. There is still a lot of anger towards the BBC. I know there have been a lot of complaints both to them and the commissioner for older people and those will have to be looked at as well.

“But this is a good news story for the Orange institution and the people of Northern Ireland and those who don’t normally see the parade.”

He added: “I think it would be no secret that Dame Arlene would be a champion for this and very much supported it and would have been the inside person within GB News to talk to them and say this is a good experience for yourselves, something that would be good for the company and good for the people of Northern Ireland.”

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