Belfast Telegraph

Sectarian attacks on Orange halls continue

By Christine Carrigan

The Orange Order has condemned sectarian attacks on two of its halls over the weekend.

There have been eight attacks on the institution's properties so far this year.

Police in Ballymena described the attack in Cloughmills, Co Antrim, as a hate crime.

And in Co Down a Union flag was stolen from an Orange hall.

Officers are investigating after Rosedernat Orange hall on Lislaban Road in Cloughmills was splattered with paint .

The PSNI said it was believed that two paint bombs were thrown at the hall sometime between 11.30pm on Saturday and 11.30am on Sunday.

North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan condemned the paint bomb attack on the Cloughmills hall.

Mr McGuigan said: "Sectarianism is wrong no matter what its source and sectarian attacks like this paint bomb attack on Cloughmills Orange hall need to be condemned by us all.

"Those responsible represent nobody and have nothing positive to offer the local north Antrim community.

"Such attacks have no place in our society and need to stop. I would appeal to anyone with information on this attack to report it to the PSNI."

Meanwhile, police in Kilkeel, Co Down, are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a flag was stolen from inside the grounds of Roden Orange hall on Aughnahoory Road.

The theft is believed to have taken place between 1am and 5.30am on Sunday.

A flagpole was damaged as a result.

The PSNI is also investigating the thefts of flags and damage to poles at a number of addresses in the area between Manse Road and Knockchree Avenue during the same period.

There have been around 140 attacks on Orange halls in the past six years.

An Orange Order spokesman expressed sadness at the continuing spate of sectarian crime targeting the organisation.

He said senior members would be meeting with police to discuss the ongoing targeting of Orange halls.

He said: "These latest attacks, though separate, 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.

"Although the nature of the incidents is clearly different, the criminal intent is very much the same by the bigoted and narrow-minded individuals responsible.

"They have nothing to offer society, only division, and their actions must be universally condemned."

A possible link between the thefts in Kilkeel is being investigated and police are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incidents or anyone with any information on the Ballymena attack to come forward.

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