Arlene Foster decision to attend Martin McGuinness’s funeral made at last minute

Arlene Foster at the funeral service with Simon Hamilton (left)
Arlene Foster at the funeral service with Simon Hamilton (left)

Arlene Foster’s decision to attend Martin McGuinness’s funeral appears to have been a last-minute one, after a day in which the DUP said that she was “undecided” about whether to go.

The News Letter asked the DUP on Tuesday night whether Mrs Foster would attend the funeral, something which had been discussed internally by DUP members for some time, as rumours that Mr McGuinness was dying had spread over recent weeks.

The party did not respond and then on Wednesday morning it told the Nolan Show that Mrs Foster was “undecided” about whether to attend the funeral but that a statement would be issued shortly to clarify the situation.

In fact, there was no statement at all that day and Mrs Foster’s decision quickly became the subject of intense speculation.

Then, writing in Thursday morning’s Belfast Telegraph – just hours before the funeral got under way – Mrs Foster clarified that she would be attending the service.

Seven years ago, Mrs Foster had declined to attend the funeral of Cardinal Daly on theological grounds but had gone to the church beforehand with colleague Sammy Wilson in order to pay her respects to Roman Catholic clerical colleagues.

Yesterday Mrs Foster was accompanied by former DUP minister Simon Hamilton who is a member of the Orange Order.

His attendance is in breach of the Orange ban on attending Mass.

That rule led to an Orange investigation after the UUP’s Tom Elliott and Danny Kennedy attended the funeral of slain PSNI officer Ronan Kerr in 2011.

The Institution ultimately decided not to discipline them.