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Condemnation after Northern Ireland Orange hall targeted in arson attack

An Orange hall in Newry has been attacked by arsonists.

It happened shortly after 7.15pm at the Altnaveigh hall at Martins Lane on Saturday when a passerby spotted the blaze and called the emergency services.

Police said tyres had been piled against the rear of the building and set on fire.

Damage was caused to the roof of the property as a result of the incident. Smoke damage was also caused to the interior of the building.

The Orange Order said it was the third attack on a hall in Northern Ireland this year.

An spokesman said members of the local lodge were left “disgusted”.

He said: “This is a truly sickening incident and one which clearly had a clear sectarian motive. The moronic hate-filled individuals responsible are a blight on the local community and ought to be ashamed of their actions.

“Such naked bigotry should not be acceptable - yet, the continuous cycle of attacks on Orange property is reflective of the unending demonisation of the institution, still very much prevalent in today’s society. This is intolerable and must not be allowed to continue.”

Altnaveigh hall was the target of previous major arson attacks in 1996 and 2005, and has been subjected to numerous acts of vandalism throughout the years, the spokesman said.

He said the building contained a memorial plaque to prominent members of the lodge who were murdered during the Troubles, and an Orange parade is held every year to commemorate the massacre of Protestants in the area in 1922.

The Order’s spokesman praised the actions of the fire service personnel, and also appealed for witnesses to contact police as a matter of urgency and said they would be meeting police to discuss security.

He added: “This really is a despicable action and we would call on all to condemn the attack and provide the PSNI with any information that may assist their investigation."

Condemnation

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy condemned the attack saying it was wrong.

He said: "Thankfully no one was injured in this incident.

"Attacks of this nature serve no purpose whatsoever and are not representative of the local area.

"I would call on anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI."

The UUP's Danny Kennedy added: "I condemn this hate crime which is deliberately timed by some republicans to raise tensions in the area in the run up to the election.

"The strategic position of Altnaveigh and its history clearly continues to play on the twisted and bigoted minds of those responsible for this attack.”

Police are appealing for information.

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