‘No retaliation’ call after Orange hall is targeted in suspected arson attack

Ballytyrone Orange Hall on the Creenagh Road in Loughgall, Armagh has been extenstively damaged in a suspected arson attack.
Ballytyrone Orange Hall on the Creenagh Road in Loughgall, Armagh has been extenstively damaged in a suspected arson attack.

There have been calls for no acts of retaliation after an Orange hall was badly damaged in Co Armagh in a suspected arson attack.

The fire at Ballytyrone Orange Hall on Creenagh Road, Loughgall, prompted a wave of condemnation, and the Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady appeared in person to inspect the damage.

It was reported at around 11.50pm on Thursday.

The fire service is treating it as a deliberate blaze, and the PSNI also said that they suspect the cause to be arson.

It is the third Orange hall to be destroyed since last year’s Twelfth, after two buildings in Co Donegal (in Newtowncunningham and Convoy) were deliberately targeted in the autumn.

In total 20 halls have been attacked since last year, including Belfast’s Clifton Street hall earlier this week.

It is also understood that the Ballytyrone hall itself has been the subject of a failed arson attack in the past.

Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, said: “This is the nearest isolated Orange hall to Loughgall, where we only opened a new museum and educational and outreach centre earlier this week.”

The lodge was established in the late 19th century, and Mr Nelson said: “Obviously, some of the local families will have been connected to the hall for generations.

“There’s just so much history has gone up in smoke, as well as the physical building.”

He appealed “that there should be no retaliation whatsoever for this attack”.

Danny Kennedy, UUP MLA for the area, said the attack was “designed to whip up tensions in the run-up to the Twelfth”.

Sinn Fein issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the attack.

Mr Kennedy and a handful of councillors were present when Mr Brady visited yesterday.

He said that the Sinn Fein MP had expressed “revulsion” at the attack.