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Order urges attacks crackdown

By Staff Reporter

Published 26/08/2016

Meeting: Grand Master Edward Stevenson
Meeting: Grand Master Edward Stevenson

There has not been a single conviction for any of the 21 attacks on Orange halls in Northern Ireland so far this year.

Senior members of the Orange Order yesterday had a face-to-face meeting with the PSNI to tell the force of their concern over ongoing attacks on Orange halls across Northern Ireland.

Last week, Salterstown Orange hall in Co Londonderry was extensively damaged in an arson attack - the 21st reported incident targeting Orange property this year.

The Orange delegation, including Grand Master Edward Stevenson, Deputy Grand Master Harold Henning and Assistant Grand Master Lewis Singleton, attended the meeting at PSNI headquarters in east Belfast.

They met senior police officers, including Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Stevenson said: "We were disappointed to be informed of the zero conviction rate so far this year for such hate crimes.

But he also went on to describe the meeting as a "useful exercise".

He said that the constant "demonisation" of the Orange Order only served to give credence to the "moronic individuals" responsible for attacking Orange property.

"While we have regular communication with the police, it was of paramount importance that we held this meeting to convey our deep concern at the upsurge of criminality targeting Orange halls," he added.

"In our discussions, we underlined the seriousness of the situation and the seemingly unending campaign of violence against our properties and way of life.

"We highlighted the fact that no part of the province is exempt from such sectarianism, with halls in every county targeted.

"While mindful that it is logistically impossible for a 24-hour guard on every hall, we emphasised the need for a concerted and co-ordinated policing strategy, resulting in individuals being made amenable for their criminal activities.

"Grand Lodge is willing to assist the PSNI in whatever way possible in this regard to ensure the prevention and cessation of such attacks."

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