A SPATE of attacks on Orange Halls in Northern Ireland has led to fears of sectarian violence leading up to this weekend’s “Twelfth” celebrations.
An attack on Ballytyrone Orange Hall, in Loughgall, left the building gutted last weekend. The Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt Revd Harold Miller, who also chairs the Church of Ireland’s Northern Ireland Community Relations Working Group, said: “[This] is a wholly unacceptable and disgraceful sectarian act. Such wilful destruction of the property of others is never justified, and it is both very sad to see and deeply unhelpful to community relations in the run up to the Twelfth of July. I would call on everyone in Northern Ireland to respect one another’s community traditions, and value one another.”
Clifton Street Orange Hall, Belfast, was targeted in an attempted petrol-bomb attack last Sunday, and sectarian graffiti was daubed on another hall at Coleraine. The Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, said the Order was devastated at the attack on the hall, which is near a premises dedicated to history and outreach, opened by the Order only a few days previously.
He appealed for calm across the whole community. “In particular, there should be no retaliation for this attack. We would not wish any community to suffer from such violence, having sustained so many attacks on our properties over the years.”
The North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Daithí McKay, said of the most recent incident: “This was a mindless attack, and in no way represents the views of the people that live here. A lot of work takes place to ensure that tensions are not raised over the summer period, and this will continue regardless. Those who carry out these attacks represent nobody.”
The Traditional Unionist Voice leader, Jim Allister, said: “Republicans have again attacked Rasharkin Orange Hall with their hate-filled slogans. The intolerance and aggression shown to the minority Unionist culture in the village demonstrates, yet again, the bigotry of those who cannot contemplate the idea of shared space.”