Belfast Telegraph

Orange halls need police protection stepped up: Swann

By Adrian Rutherford

Police must have adequate resources to protect Orange halls following a spate of attacks, the leader of the UUP has said. Robin Swann called for the PSNI to be given the necessary financial and human assistance to increase patrols around halls in his North Antrim constituency.

Mr Swann, a past master in both the Orange and Black Orders, was speaking after a paint bomb attack on a hall near Cloughmills.

Mr Swann said: "It is absolutely deplorable that vandals should spoil what was a very peaceful Twelfth by indulging in this scandalous anti-social behaviour, which is only designed to heighten tensions.

"Police need to be given additional resources so that they can increase patrols around Orange halls to stamp out this mindless vandalism."

The Orange Order said there had been eight reported attacks on its property so far this year.

A spokesman expressed sadness at the continuing spate of hate crimes targeting the institution, and confirmed senior members would again be raising the issue of hall security with police.

He said: "These continuing attacks are yet further examples of the intolerant sectarianism displayed by a minority, who continue to manifest their hatred towards the Orange Institution by attacking our properties on a regular basis. We would urge anyone with information in relation to these incidents to contact police immediately."

Superintendent Simon Walls said: "Police regard all hate crimes as attacks on the whole community and we are committed to identifying and apprehending those responsible for perpetrating these crimes.

"Orange halls and other significant sites, such as churches and GAA clubs, form part of the regular patrolling patterns of local policing teams throughout Northern Ireland, particularly during the summer months.

"We will work with all organisations, as well as local elected and community representatives, to identify opportunities to prevent attacks and to address any ongoing concerns they may have."

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