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Politicians unite to condemn arson attack on Orange hall

By Laura Abernethy

Published 27/06/2016

The damage caused after an oil tank was set on fire at Muckery Orange hall
The damage caused after an oil tank was set on fire at Muckery Orange hall

A Co Armagh Orange hall destroyed in 1997 has been targeted again in an arson attack.

An oil tank was set on fire at Muckery Orange hall in the early hours of yesterday. The blaze scorched the exterior of the building but did not cause any damage inside.

It is the fourth attack on Orange properties this month and the 10th this year.

An Orange Order spokesman condemned those behind the arson but said the lodge would not be intimidated.

He said: "This sickening attempt to destroy a community facility under cover of darkness is utterly reprehensible. The mindless delinquents responsible for such sectarian criminality should hang their heads in shame, and must be held accountable for their actions. It is extremely fortunate that the consequences of their reckless behaviour were not much more serious.

"The lodge which meets in this Orange hall is very close-knit. Their culture and heritage should offend no one. The perpetrators of this crime are not representative of the wider community, who overwhelmingly reject such wrongdoing."

The attack was condemned by politicians from both sides of the community in Upper Bann.

Local MP David Simpson called it "another cold, callous attack on our culture and heritage". He said: "This attack demonstrates again that there is a continued desire by some to drag Northern Ireland backwards. These people did not succeed in the past and will not succeed in the future."

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said: "This is a sickening attack on what is a small Protestant population who live peaceably with their neighbours.

"I am saddened to see such an attack on what is an excellent community facility in the area."

UUP councillor Colin McCusker said he had attended the annual church service for the brethren of Muckery last week. He said: "There were no bands, no drums, just a silent walk from the hall to the church close by. No more than 30 of us quietly did what we do every year, exercise our civil and religious liberty. One week on and someone felt it necessary to carry out this hate crime.

"This type of intimidation will not succeed. This hall has been attacked before. It has been destroyed. As we approach the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, it is vital that all right-thinking people from right across the political spectrum ensure this activity has no support whatsoever."

Sinn Fein MLA Catherine Seeley said: "Those who attacked Muckery Orange hall have zero to offer, no support and not an ounce of sense. Despicable."

SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden said he condemned the attack unreservedly. "This is a blatant attempt to raise tensions in the area and I call on anyone who saw anything suspicious late last night or early this morning to contact the PSNI."

In recent weeks Orange halls at Wattlebridge in Co Fermanagh and Glenavy and Derriaghy in Co Antrim were targeted.

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