UPSURGE IN ATTACKS ON ORANGE HALLS

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has expressed alarm at the upsurge in attacks on Orange Halls in Co. Tyrone.

Three halls were attacked over the weekend .On Saturday morning, an attempt was made to break into Dergina Orange Hall near Ballygawley. Graffiti was daubed on the building. A few miles away, graffiti was painted on Mullnahunch Orange Hall.

This morning, Sunday, an attempt was made to set fire to Strawletterdallon Orange Hall on the Newtownstewart to Plumbridge Road.

Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said:

“A passing motorist saw smoke coming from the hall around 9.00am and raised the alarm. Without his quick thinking, the hall would probably have been burned to the ground.

“A tyre was placed at the emergency exit at the rear of the building and set on fire. Oil had been poured over the tyre to accelerate the fire. We are very fortunate the hall was not destroyed.

“This hall is used by all sections of the community, including dancing classes, a Young Farmers Club, a Faith Mission and a local community group. On Saturday night about 20 members of the local Junior Orange Lodge met in the building.

“Last week a number of windows in the hall were smashed.

“We are very concerned about the upsurge in attacks in Tyrone.

“It seems too much of a co-incidence that we have had three halls attacked in the county over the weekend. We believe there is a degree of organisation behind these attacks that points towards republican paramilitary activity.

“This may be an attempt by republicans to stir up sectarian strife and we would appeal to everyone to keep calm and report any knowledge they have to the police.

“We would also appeal to the police to devote more resources to the detection of those responsible for these attacks.”

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