Belfast Telegraph

Enough words, we need action against Orange hall arsonists

Editor's Viewpoint

The Orange hall at Ballytyrone is the 61st to be destroyed since the Troubles began and is part of a concerted attack on the Orange Order that has lasted many years.

The powerful images of this latest attack, which we feature in today's paper, are reminiscent of the burning of churches in the USA's deep south.

It is mealy-mouthed to describe the attack at Ballytyrone as an "isolated incident". This building was not just "badly damaged" - it was virtually razed to the ground. In reality, this is another example of a hate campaign that serves to disfigure our society.

These modest buildings, situated virtually in the middle of nowhere, are reflective of the Spartan beginnings of the Orange Order, but they also provide a focus for rural community life.

Unfortunately, they are easy targets for the enemies of democracy who skulk in the dark.

Dr David Hume likens this latest incident to the Nazis making bonfires of books, and members of the Orange Order and their families see these attacks as a form of ethnic cleansing.

The attack is particularly sad because the building is not far from the new Sloan's House Visitors' Centre in Loughgall, which was opened just days ago.

This event was attended by the former Armagh GAA player Jarlath Burns, who spoke out bravely, eloquently, generously and imaginatively about the need to build a shared future.

His courageous initiative deserved better than another burnt-out Orange hall.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness swiftly issued a strong condemnation of the attack, but there is a need for many other people from his broad community to follow his example.

There is also a need for anyone with knowledge of what happened to contact the police so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

The detection rate remains risibly low, but it must improve. This is not another isolated incident but part of a campaign.

Now is the time for action, as well as words of condemnation.

Belfast Telegraph


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