Fund to give facelift to Orange halls hit by sectarian attacks
Orange halls in Northern Ireland are in line for a facelift after years of sectarian attack.
DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Communities Minister Paul Givan announced a £500,000 special fund for all community halls.
Priority will be given to those subjected to recent criminal damage or those under-used because of disrepair.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said its 750 buildings were used by a wide variety of groups.
A spokesman added: "The activities carried out in these halls provide a social lifeline to many otherwise isolated rural communities.
"Government assistance for such vital community facilities is to be welcomed; particularly when Orange property continues to be targeted in sectarian attacks - with 33 incidents so far this year alone, including the destruction of Salterstown Orange hall.
"It is therefore pleasing priority, among others, is to be given to applications where buildings have been subject to recent criminal damage."
Mrs Foster said the buildings were used by many community and voluntary organisations to provide vital services and were places for local people to come together and strengthen relationships.
She said: "I welcome this funding that will make positive change to halls that are aged, in disrepair or have been damaged.
"I am confident it will improve the lives of people throughout Northern Ireland for years to come."
Individual awards of up to a maximum of £25,000 will be made to community organisations. Grants may be used for a range of small- scale refurbishment works.