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Goggins in talks with Orange chiefs over arson attacks

By Victor Gordon

Published 20/10/2007

Craigavon councillor Mark Russell inspects the fire damage at Tamnificarbet Orange Hall outside Portadown
Craigavon councillor Mark Russell inspects the fire damage at Tamnificarbet Orange Hall outside Portadown

Orange leaders in north Armagh are meeting Security Minister Paul Goggins on Monday in a bid to counter the recent spate of arson attacks on Orange Halls.

Three rural halls in the Craigavon area have been torched over the past week, and Monday's meeting has been set up by local MP David Simpson.

Mr Simpson told the Belfast Telegraph: "The purpose of the meeting is two-fold. We will be asking the Minister to tighten up security in the area.

"This is an attack on the Protestant culture and the arson attacks in the Craigavon area - obviously by dissident republicans - are showing a pattern.

"Secondly, we want the compensation process speeded up. Some 34 halls have been burned in Northern Ireland since July and well over 300 in the past 30 years.

"Compensation procedure has been painfully slow and Lodges are keen to get on with refurbishing their halls."

As well as Mr Simpson, the meeting will be attended by the District Orange Masters of Portadown and Lurgan, whose districts include three halls damaged this week - Tamnificarbet, Ballygargan and Bocombra.

The District Masters are Darryl Hewitt (Portadown) who is immersed in the Drumcree controversy and John Crozier (Lurgan).

Two other halls in those districts were burned eight weeks ago - Seagoe and Kilmore.

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