Belfast Telegraph

Those who torch our buildings are no better than Nazis

By David Hume

In the film The Book Thief, there is a scene where the Nazis burn books in a bonfire.

The central figure, a young girl named Liesel, recovers a book from the fire - something she does at personal risk.

The scene reinforces the sense that there are many who do not want to accept other opinions, expressions or cultures.

We see it all over the world, not least in Islamic State's destruction of ancient cities in the territories that they now control.

I struggle to identify the difference between these cultural attacks and the burning of Orange halls.

In a week in which the new Museum of Orange Heritage opened at Loughgall, we have seen the Orange hall at Ballytyrone destroyed in an arson attack. This is an attack on not just property but also people.

Members of the lodge have lost their hall, which means everything to them. They will see it as an attack on them as individuals, and they and their families will be deeply saddened, hurt and fearful.

Those who are responsible are behaving no better than the Nazis who once burned books because they did not agree with their content.

Ballytyrone is the 61st Orange hall to be destroyed since the Troubles began. Like the others, it will rise again.

The Orange Institution will rally - and the community will support it. I know that most people from the nationalist community have no truck with such attacks. Those who burn Orange halls have nothing to offer our society.

Those involved in the arson at Ballytyrone have achieved nothing. The hall will be rebuilt.

The lodge will still walk proudly on the Twelfth with its brethren from Loughgall District. Orangeism is not finished in Ballytyrone, even though the attacker would like it to be.

The Deputy First Minister has condemned this attack, but more needs to be done. More than 330 members of the Orange Institution were murdered during the Troubles - the majority of them by republicans.

We have yet to hear the remorse of Sinn Fein in relation to that loss as an institution. Such an expression would be a clear message to both the Orange family and to those who attack Orange halls.

We also see continued issues over our parades. Republican opposition to parades helps to create the conditions where the Orange Order is demonised. That leads some within the republican community to decide that burning us out is acceptable.

The Orange Order does not want to see its halls burnt. It wants to share the future. That journey to the future is a difficult one in our community, but it must be a shared journey.

Pouring petrol into an Orange hall and lighting the match takes us back to a part of the past we need to leave behind.

Dr. David Hume MBE is director of services at the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

Belfast Telegraph

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