DUP First Minister Ian Paisley last night said he was deeply concerned about attacks on Orange halls which have the hallmarks of a blatant sectarian hate campaign against the Protestant community.
DUP First Minister Ian Paisley last night said
he was deeply concerned about attacks on
Orange halls which have the hallmarks of a blatant
sectarian hate campaign against the
Following a visit to Ballyworkan in Upper
Bann, the scene of a weekend attack – and a
meeting with Security Minister Paul Goggins –
he said: "This is not a simple matter of vandalism.
It is a blatant display of sectarian hatred
against the heart of a community.
"This behaviour should not be tolerated by
any element within our society.
"It must be unreservedly condemned."
The MP said "individuals who are intent on
stirring up sectarian division" were responsible
and must not succeed.
These people had "a deep-seeded hatred for all
things Protestant" but are a minority, he said.
The incidents – nearly 30 this year – come at a
time when the Orange Order has embarked
upon a programme of education to deal with the
misconstrued ideas about the Order, he added.
He said: "The Northern Ireland Office also has
a significant role to play in the restoration of
Orange halls which suffer attack.
"These are clearly sectarian attacks but for
government compensation to be forthcoming
there must be a Chief Constable's Certificate.
"There are numerous halls around Northern
Ireland which are currently not fit for purpose
because of sectarian attacks yet compensation
is slow and in some cases non-existent.
"This is a reserved (Westminster] matter and I
would call on the Secretary of State to take the
action which the DUP has long advised.
"There are a number of mechanisms which
would streamline the compensation process.
This has been under consideration for a number
of months but the time has come for action.
"Orange halls are a focal point in their communities.
The use of Orange halls extends well
beyond Loyal Order activities.
"I have discussed these issues with the
Security Minister and I look forward to the NIO
delivering on this matter which demands
DUP Culture Minister Edwin Poots said
nationalists and republican representatives had
a responsibility to address the issue, not just in
statements of condemnation but in actual on
the ground backing.