Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness: Deliberate targeting of people or property because of religion, ethnicity or race is a hate crime

By Martin McGuinness

The destruction of Ballytyrone Orange Hall in Co Armagh is a disgrace and I unreservedly condemn it. Those responsible are sectarian bigots.

I can understand and accept the frustration and anger expressed by representatives of the Orange Order concerning the reprehensible attack on Ballytyrone Orange hall and other attacks on their properties.

Sinn Fein elected representatives have been clear, consistent and unequivocal in their condemnation of these attacks.

Sinn Fein has been consistent in attempting to promote reconciliation and build bridges between our communities. There can be no place in our society for the type of attack on a section of our community last night.

I strongly urge those who are in positions of leadership in politics, in business, or in the community, to use their influence to lead by example by demonstrating in our public utterances and actions respect for each other and our differences. Together we need to send out the message to those who carried out this action that it is wrong and unacceptable.

The people behind this attack have nothing to offer any community and they are totally out of step with the vast majority of people who are disgusted by this type of action.

The deliberate targeting of people or property because of religion, ethnicity or race is a hate crime.

Sectarianism, racism and homophobia, or any other form of hate, have no place in our society and certainly no place in republican ideology - it is anathema to everything republicanism represents and must be opposed anywhere it raises its head.

The Orange hall, just like the GAA club or the parish hall, is a community asset and should be respected as such.

I am sure that, as has been the case in similar circumstances in the past, the community and other groups and organisations will rally around to support the victims of the attack while this hall is being restored.

We must all stand together when anyone is targeted or discriminated against as a result of religious beliefs, ethnicity or gender, whether it be an Orange hall in Armagh, or the homes of ethnic minority families in Belfast, or members of our LGBT community.

All of us nationalists, republicans, unionists, loyalists and others must stand united against all manifestations of hatred.

In the meantime, I would urge everyone to be vigilant and to come forward to the police with any information that they may have about these attacks.

Belfast Telegraph


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