Belfast Telegraph

Oranger Order wants to meet police chief after 20 attacks on halls this year

By Adrian Rutherford

The Orange Order has called for an urgent meeting with Chief Constable George Hamilton over a spate of attacks on its halls.

There have been around 20 crimes involving Orange Order property this year.

In the latest incident, sectarian graffiti was sprayed on a hall in the Mullaghglass Road area of Lisburn some time between Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier this week, Flowerhill Orange Hall near Lisburn and Dungonnell Orange Hall at Crumlin, both in Co Antrim, were targeted in similar graffiti attacks, just hours apart.

Grand Master Edward Stevenson said police patrols need to pay attention to Orange halls.

"There needs to be a robust police response to these hate crimes," he said.

"While appreciating there cannot be a 24-hour guard on every hall, there needs to be a concerted and co-ordinated policing strategy that will see individuals made amenable for these crimes.

"We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Constable to discuss what can be done to halt these increasing attacks on our property," he added.

Police said they are treating the latest attack as a hate crime.

In the previous incidents, Flowerhill Orange Hall, at Hillhall Road, had sectarian graffiti sprayed on its walls.

Meanwhile, Dungonnell Orange Hall was targeted some time between midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.

Last month, a bus was attacked by arsonists outside a hall in Co Antrim. The vehicle, containing instruments and flags belonging to Dervock Young Defenders flute band, was destroyed.

Separately, graffiti was daubed on the walls of Newmills Orange Hall near Dungannon.

In June, an oil tank at Muckery Orange Hall near Derrytrasna, Co Armagh, was set on fire, causing scorch damage to the hall's gable wall.

One Orange hall in west Tyrone has been attacked three times in as many months. Windows were smashed during each incident at Strawletterdallon Orange Hall near Newtownstewart.

The PSNI has said it is committed to catching the culprits.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "Police regard all hate crimes as attacks on the whole community and we are committed to identifying and apprehending those responsible for perpetrating these crimes.

"Orange halls and other significant sites, such as churches and GAA clubs, form part of the regular patrolling patterns of local policing teams throughout Northern Ireland, particularly during the summer months.

"We will work with all organisations, including the Orange Order, to identify opportunities to prevent attacks and to address any ongoing concerns they may have."

Belfast Telegraph


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