Community outrage after Salterstown Orange hall destroyed in arson attack
A parish priest has said he is outraged after an Orange Hall in Co Londonderry - whose members have helped build good cross-community relations - was extensively damaged in an overnight arson attack.
The blaze at the Salterstown hall, near Ballyronan, was discovered during the early hours of yesterday morning after the alarm was raised by a local resident.
The inside of the rural building suffered substantial damage, with a lodge banner, collarettes and instruments belonging to a local band destroyed.
Rev Peter Donnelly, parish priest in Ballinderry, close to where the attack took place, said he was outraged at the incident.
"I want to express the abhorrence of the whole Catholic community at this attack.
"We sympathise with the members of the Salterstown Orange Hall - it is thoroughly condemned by everybody.
"There are excellent community relations in this area.
"I was outraged by it; it's shocking. Everybody is very shocked by what happened."
Members of the Salterstown lodge have been left "devastated" by the attack.
This latest incident brings the total number of attacks on Orange Halls to 21 this year.
<< Scroll down for full list of attacks>>
The Church of Ireland Primate, Dr Richard Clarke, said his thoughts and prayers were with the lodge at this difficult.
"The arson attack on Salterstown Orange Hall was a disgraceful act, causing great hurt to members of the local lodge and their families and neighbours," he said.
"Every effort should be made to promote goodwill and respect for one another's traditions in Northern Ireland. I would also appeal for anyone with information about the attack to bring it forward to the PSNI for investigation."
Alan Day, treasurer of Salterstown Orange Hall, commented: "I am devastated at the attack on our rural Orange Hall which we have only recently finished renovating.
"Salterstown Loyal Sons of Derry are very much a family oriented rural lodge, with close ties to Ballinderry Parish Church.
"The lodge recently commemorated the centenary of three members killed in World War One, and regularly raises money for charity.
"The lodge has a very good relationship with all communities in the local area."
A spokesman for Salterstown Orange Order said lodge members were in a "complete state of shock" at the attack on the premises.
He explained: "We are absolutely devastated that our property should be targeted in such a manner, and are simply crestfallen by the scene of devastation inflicted by the abhorrent individuals responsible.
"The hall has been a part of community life for over 100 years, serving as a meeting place for local groups, and its unavailability for a period will be keenly felt. Despite this major setback, the lodge and the wider Orange fraternity will rally around and ensure our hall is once again fully restored."
Alliance Justice spokesperson, Trevor Lunn MLA, described the incident as a "mindless sectarian attack".
He said: "This is simply vandalism which achieves nothing except to attempt and intimidate one section of our community. Attacks like these have no place in our society. The people responsible for this attack offer nothing positive to our society."
Senior Orangemen are due to formally meet with the police soon to discuss the situation.
In response to the recent spate of attacks on halls, senior Orangemen are due to formally meet with the police in the coming days to discuss the situation.
21 attack on Orange Halls in 2016
17/02/2016 Strawletterdallon Orange Hall Tyrone Windows broken at rear
19/02/2016 Strawletterdallon Orange Hall Tyrone Windows broken at front
22/02/2016 Rasharkin Orange Hall Antrim 1916' Republican Graffiti
23/04/2016 Clifton Street Belfast Paint attack
03/05/2016 Strawletterdallon Orange Hall Tyrone Windows Broken
10/05/2016 Ballyneal Orange Hall, Magherafelt Londonderry Attempted Arson
29/05/2016 Wattlebridge Orange Hall, Newtownbutler Fermanagh Hoax bomb alert
04/06/2016 Crewe Orange Hall, Upper Ballinderry Antrim Paint attack
14/06/2016 Derrighy Orange Hall Antrim Graffiti Attack
26/06/2016 Muckery, Lurgan Armagh Attempted Arson - Oil tank set alight
30/06/2016 Tanvally, Banbridge Down Graffiti
30/06/2016 Corbet, Banbridge Down Graffiti
02/07/2016 Ballyneal Orange Hall, Magherafelt Londonderry Flags Stolen
09/07/2016 Ballyneal Orange Hall, Magherafelt Londonderry Flags Stolen
10/07/2016 Dysart Orange Hall Down Graffiti
20/07/2016 Newmills Orange Hall, Dungannon Tyrone Graffiti
21/07/2016 Dervock Orange Hall, Antrim Bus destroyed in Arson Attack outside Hall
29/07/2016 Augharan Orange Hall, Dungannon Tyrone Flags Stolen, Vandalism
02/08/2016 Dungonnell Orange Hall, Ballymena Antrim Graffiti
03/08/2016 Flowerhill Orange Hall, Lisburn Antrim Graffiti
15/08/2016 Salterstown Orange Hall, Magherafelt Londonderry Arson Attack- Internally Gutted