An overnight attack at an Orange Hall in Co Antrim has been condemned by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
Overnight [May 13-14] republican graffiti, including ‘IRA’ slogans and ‘Orange scum’, were daubed on the exterior of Fourscore Orange Hall, outside Glenavy.
The incident is the fourth reported attack on Orange property so far this year and follows an arson attempt at the Glenavy hall in 2012.
Condemning those behind the attack, Worshipful Master of Fourscore LOL 340, James Tinsley said: “This is a sickening hate crime which bears all the hallmarks of a deliberate sectarian attack.
“Those responsible are acting in isolation and their shameful actions are not reflective of the excellent community relations in the local area. Indeed, the hall is used for many social events attended by both Protestants and Roman Catholics.
“We hope the perpetrators will examine their consciences and realise their actions are not just an attack on our Orange culture and heritage, but the entire population of Glenavy.”
A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland called for anyone with information about the incident to contact police.
The spokesman said there were 24 separate attacks on Orange halls and property in 2013, resulting in only one conviction.
In a statement South Antrim MP William McCrea highlighted that fact that the attack comes only days after “the Institution was singled out by Martin McGuinness and linked to the spate of attacks against Polish nationals living in Belfast”.
Mr McCrea said: “This is a despicable attack on not just the Orange Institution, but on the people of this area. There can be no justification for any attack on an Orange Hall, church or any other building and it is quite clear that Fourscore Orange Hall has been the subject of a hate crime campaign.
“It is vital that everyone in the community takes a strong stand against those behind these attacks.
“However, condemnation of such attacks is not enough, if they are coming from sources responsible for comments demonising the Orange Institution.
“Only in the last few days Martin McGuinness disgracefully singled out the Orange Institution without any justification, linking it to the appalling attacks on Polish nationals within Belfast. Alongside a clear condemnation of these kind of attacks on Orange Halls there should be a full retraction of the kind of comments which would clearly allow some individuals to feel justified in attacking the Institution and its halls only a few days later.”
DUP Councillor for Lisburn, James Tinsley who is a member of Fourscore True Blues LOL 340, said: “This is the latest in an ongoing series of attacks on this hall. It is very clear that the attacks are motivated by nothing other than hatred and bigotry.
“Attempts have been made in the past to burn the hall and there has been regular vandalism. However this latest attack represents the most serious incident of recent months.
“The hall is used by a wide spectrum of people across the community and this attack represents an attack on all of the people in this area.”
Later Sinn Féin candidate Mary Kate Quinn slammed the graffiti attack on Forescore Orange hall.
“This is the latest in a series of attacks on the Fourscore Orange hall over the past two years,” she said. “Those behind do not represent this community.
“Unfortunately over the past week there have also been attacks on the towns GAA club and the local pub.
“There are excellent community relations in the town and the surrounding area and bigots like this will not be allowed to damage this.
“Those responsible for this latest attack are not republicans.
“Those who are involved in each of these attacks are sectarian vandals. I would appeal to anyone who saw anything suspicious to report it to the PSNI. These attacks cannot be allowed to continue.”
NI21 council candidate David Honeyford said: “An attack on any section of our entire community is unacceptable.
“We need to see more acceptance of other people’s culture in our community to recognise the wonderful diversity in Northern Ireland.
“While the vast majority of us in Glenavy, irrespective of religious or political beliefs, live our lives happily together there continues to be a tiny minority intent on stirring up relationships. This is wrong and must stop.
“I respect everyone’s culture and I believe that everyone’s culture should be celebrated,” he said.
Police are appealing for information about the “incident of criminal damage which happened at premises at the Garlandstown Road, Glenavy area”.
“Sometime overnight between Tuesday 13th May and Wednesday 14th May, it was reported that slogans were painted over an Orange Hall in the area,” said the spokesman. “At this stage, police are treating the incident as a hate crime. Inquiries are continuing.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police in Lisburn on 0845 600 8000.
If you prefer to provide information without giving your details you can contact the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.