Bomb alert at Orange hall an ‘attempt to intimidate Protestants’

The hoax device found at an Orange Hall in Co Fermanagh.
The hoax device found at an Orange Hall in Co Fermanagh.

The Orange Institution has condemned those responsible for a hoax bomb alert that lasted around 24 hours at one of its properties in Co Fermanagh.

A suspect device was discovered by a lodge member at the front door of Wattlebridge Orange hall, near Newtownbutler, on Friday afternoon, prompting a major security alert.

Army bomb experts examined the item, before declaring it to be an elaborate hoax late on Saturday afternoon.

County Grand Master of County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge, Stuart Brooker, accused the perpetrators of attempting to “intimidate” the local Protestant community.

He said: “Lodge members feel extremely hurt to be targeted in such a malicious fashion. They have been through all of this before during the height of the Troubles and were convinced such delinquency was wedded to the past. Regrettably, it would seem there remains a minority intent on causing disturbance and division.

“The Orange hall is relatively isolated and so therefore is deemed an easy target for such criminality. Those who skulk in the darkness and engage in such underhand activity fail to understand that the property is a vital social facility in the border area, and is utilised by a number of groups.

“The lodge membership reside on both sides of the border and are fully integrated in the local community. The vast majority of whom would quite rightly condemn such reckless behaviour in their locality and any attempt to damage community relations.

“Despite this incident, the Orange Institution in Co Fermanagh remains committed to playing a constructive role to ensure a truly shared future prevails for all traditions.”

Mr Brooker praised the actions of the police and security services for dealing with the alert in a professional and efficient manner.

The senior Orangeman also called on anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the Wattlebridge Road area to contact police immediately.

There have been a total of seven reported attacks on Orange property so far this year in Northern Ireland.