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Orange Order's anger after hoax bomb left at hall sparks alert

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 30/05/2016

Hoax: The suspect device
Hoax: The suspect device

A hoax bomb alert at an Orange hall in Co Fermanagh has been condemned as "malicious" by the institution.

The suspect device was discovered by a lodge member at the front door of Wattlebridge Orange hall, close to the Cavan border, on Friday afternoon, prompting a security alert.

Army bomb experts examined the item before declaring it to be an elaborate hoax.

Chief Superintendent Pauline Shields thanked local people and road users for their patience and co-operation during the security alert.

Stuart Brooker, Fermanagh county grand master of the Orange Order, accused those responsible of attempting to "intimidate" the local Protestant community.

"Lodge members feel extremely hurt to be targeted in such a malicious fashion," he said.

"They have been through all of this before during the height of the Troubles and were convinced such delinquency was wedded to the past. Regrettably, it would seem there remains a minority intent on causing disturbance and division."

Mr Brooker said, as the hall was relatively isolated, it could be deemed an "easy target".

"Those who skulk in the darkness and engage in such underhand activity fail to understand that the property is a vital social facility in the border area and is utilised by a number of groups," he added.

"The lodge membership reside on both sides of the border and are fully integrated in the local community."

This is the latest in a series of recent attacks on Orange halls.

At the start of May a Co Tyrone Orange hall was targeted for a third time in three months.

Around 14 windows were smashed and doors damaged at the Strawletterdallon Orange hall.

The building is situated near Newtownstewart, on the Plumbridge Road.

It was previously attacked twice in a two-day period in February, with doors and windows damaged.

An Orange Order spokesman said at the time that the hall had been vandalised by "bigots".

"Once again Strawletterdallon has been attacked by vandals who have nothing to offer society, only destruction and division," he said.

"The stark similarity to previous attacks indicates that the minority rump responsible have reverted to type, by returning to engage in their shameful sectarian criminality."

The PSNI said it was being treated as a hate crime.

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