Belfast Telegraph

DUP say Union flag theft from Orange hall is a hate crime

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

The theft of a Union flag from an Orange hall in west Belfast has been branded a hate crime by the DUP.

An 18-year-old man was arrested by police yesterday afternoon on suspicion of its theft from Whiterock Orange hall in Dunboyne Park last weekend.

The teenager is currently assisting police with their inquiries.

A short video of part of the incident, posted on YouTube, is forming part of the PSNI investigation. It shows a young man with a hood partially obscuring his face climbing up the flagpole.

In the clip, a male, thought to be the person recording the incident, is heard saying: "Keep going kid, get it down to f***. Kill all huns."

A PSNI spokesman said: "On Wednesday July 24, police received a report of the theft of a flag from an Orange hall in the Dunboyne Park area of west Belfast sometime between Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 and are investigating.

"Police are aware of a video which has been posted on the internet and will examine this as part of the investigation along with any available CCTV footage."

DUP councillor Brian Kingston condemned the theft of the Union flag from the flagpole at Whiterock Orange Hall, describing it as a "blatant cultural hate crime".

The new flagpole was erected just two weeks ago, in time for the Twelfth of July celebrations.

In June the Orange hall was damaged in an arson attack when a wheelie bin was pushed against the back door and set on fire.

Last night DUP MLA William Humphrey told the Belfast Telegraph the removal of the flag was not only an attack on the Orange institution, but an attack on the wider Protestant community in west Belfast.

"This the second breach of security at Whiterock in the last number of weeks," he said.

"We met with the police today and asked them to increase security around the hall.

"We are pleased we have been able to give police still photographs and CCTV footage of those responsible as evidence.

"It is very clearly an attempt to wind up an already volatile situation and also an attempt to damage the property," he added.

"There were attacks the weekend before last on cars in the West Circular Road area.

"These are all hate crimes."

Anyone with information on the theft of the flag has been asked to contact police on 084 5600 8000.

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