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Arson attack at Orange Hall: Martin McGuinness condemns those behind fire which destroyed building


Fire crews tackle the blaze at the Orange Hall in Convoy

Fire crews tackle the blaze at the Orange Hall in Convoy

Fire crews tackle the blaze at the Orange Hall in Convoy

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has slammed a suspected arson attack on an Orange Hall in Co Donegal as 'horrifying'.

The blaze was discovered at the Convoy Orange Hall in the early hours of Friday morning.

Although not yet confirmed, the fire appears to be the latest attack on Orange Order buildings over the last few weeks.

A spokesman for the Orange Order said "gardai are currently working to establish the cause of the fire" and that "although early indications are that forced entry was made into the building".

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was "horrified and disgusted" by the destruction.

"I'm absolutely infuriated and I want to make it absolutely clear that, in my opinion, whatever was behind the motivation of those who were responsible for these deeds, there wasn't anything republican about it, there wasn't anything political about it, but there was everything criminal about it," he said.

Appealing for local people to ensure the halls are restored to their "former glory", he described attacks on the Orange Order as totally unjustified.

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"They do make an important contribution, culturally, religiously and socially to the life of people in that area, and not just from the Protestant community," he said.

Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, said:

"It would appear that this incident, although not yet confirmed, is a carbon copy of the recent arson attack at Newtowncunningham.

"If so, it is our belief such criminality will be roundly rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Roman Catholic community in Donegal."

According to the Orange Order there have been 16 reported attacks on property owned by the organisation in Northern Ireland and the Republic this year.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said those behind what appeared to a second attack in the space of days, said those responsible "must be apprehended".

“While obviously this is a matter for the police and people in the Irish Republic to deal with, it is of considerable concern that within a short space of time an orchestrated campaign against Orange halls seems to be underway.

"Whoever is responsible for either, or both attacks needs to be apprehended. The gardai in the Republic must demonstrate that they will pursue the perpetrators with vigour.

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle condemned those responsible for the suspected attack.

"This type of sectarian attack has no place in our society.There can be no justification for this attack," he said.

"Those responsible are offering nothing to the community."

The fire comes just days after a blaze at an Orange Hall elsewhere in Co Donegal.

It was discovered at Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal on Sunday, Sep 14.

Gardai confirmed that the blaze was malicious.

Sinn Fein TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn described it as an attack on the entire community.

Just last weekend Carnagh Orange Hall in Armagh was also targeted.

Dissident republicans claimed responsibility for planting a bomb which partially exploded.

The device was found at the door of Carnagh Orange Hall in Keady, Armagh, at the weekend and has been taken away for examination.

Minor damage was caused to the roller shutter when the crude bomb packed inside a saucepan partially exploded.

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