Tyrone Orange Hall attack ‘a hate crime’

Damage at Strawletterdallon Orange hall after latest attack
Damage at Strawletterdallon Orange hall after latest attack

The third attack on an Orange Hall in west Tyrone in as many months is being treated as a hate crime by the PSNI.

A spokesman for the Orange Order said the perpetrators of the latest attack are waging a “hate campaign” against the rural hall.

Damage at Strawletterdallon Orange hall after latest attack.

Damage at Strawletterdallon Orange hall after latest attack.

Around 14 windows were smashed at Strawletterdallon Orange hall, near Newtownstewart in the early hours of this morning. The door of the property was also damaged.

This morning’s attack follows two similar incidents at the Plumbridge Road property in February.

“Once again Strawletterdallon has been attacked by vandals who have nothing to offer society, only destruction and division,” an Orange Order spokesman said.

“The stark similarity to previous attacks indicates that the minority rump responsible have reverted to type, by returning to engage in their shameful sectarian criminality.

Strawletterdallon Orange hall, near Newtownstewart

Strawletterdallon Orange hall, near Newtownstewart

“These intolerant bigots believe they are damaging the Orange Institution by destroying its property. However, they fail to realise their wicked deeds are actually an attack on community groups in and around the Newtownstewart area who avail of this hall as a social facility and meeting place.”

He added: “Their actions are futile and are not representative of the local community who will quite rightly be appalled at this latest attack.”

The spokesman appealed for any witnesses to the incident, or anyone with relevant information, to contact police immediately.

The Strawletterdallon incident is the fifth attack on Orange property so far this year.

A PSNI spokesman said police are investigating an incident of criminal damage at Strawletterdallon Orange Hall, Plumbridge Road, Newtownstewart overnight last night, Tuesday 03 May.

A PSNI spokesman said shortly after 7am it was reported that a number of windows and the door of the hall had been damaged.

“Police are treating this incident as a hate crime and Inspector Alison Ferguson is appealing for anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact officers in Strabane Police Station on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111,” he said.

West Tyrone DUP candidate Allan Bresland, who condemned the latest attack on Strawletterdallon Orange Hall near Newtownstewart, said: “There has been a concerted campaign of hatred against this Orange Hall in recent months. This is a facility which is open to, and serves the wider community in this rural area.

“After the last attack on this hall in February the First Minister joined me at the hall to show solidarity with members of the lodge. We will continue to stand with those who face such bigotry and intolerance.”

He added: “The Orange Institution is part of the fabric of life in Northern Ireland and it is time that we heard clear statement of this from those who so often stand in condemnation of Loyal Order parades.

“Alongside the condemnation of such wanton vandalism there must be recognition that opposition to the expression of Orange culture feeds into the intolerance displayed in such attacks.”

And Sinn Fein candidate Grace McDermott described the attack on the Orange hall at Strawletterdallon as ‘purely sectarian.’

She said: “The attack on Strawletterdallon Orange Hall must be condemned outright as it was purely sectarian. I am deeply disappointed that this hall is being subject to continuous attacks over the past few months and years and those who are carrying out the attacks need to be stopped.

“If the objective was to cause community division I am confident that this objective will fail. These attacks do not reflect the wishes of communities in any part of Tyrone.

“These attacks are no different than attacks on GAA halls, churches and other cultural and community facilities and must be rejected by everyone.”