An attempted arson attack on an isolated Orange Hall in Co Down has been condemned as “a sinister development”.
The attempted arson attack was discovered in recent days by a contractor who was carrying out repair work on Legananny Orange hall, in the Dromara hills near Castlewellan when he saw that tiles were removed and felt torn from the roof of the property.
An Orange Order spokesman said a firecracker, a smashed bottle and toilet roll were also found at the scene.
Condemning the actions of those responsible, a Orange Order spokesman said: “This is clearly a sinister development and a blatant attempt to destroy what is a community hub in a rural and isolated area of County Down.
“Whether the perpetrators got cold feet, were disturbed or where simply slapdash in their illicit deeds; it is extremely fortunate their wicked intent did not materialise into the premeditated destruction of this hall.
“The building is used not only by the Loyal Orders but also an accordion band and, like other such properties, provides a social lifeline by playing an integral and vital role in local community life.”
He said the “regrettable episode” again underlines “the fact that there remains a minority in our society intent on maintaining a legacy of hatred against the Orange Institution and who are still prepared to attack our properties and our traditions”.
“They must not be allowed to succeed,” he added.
The Orange Order spokesman appealed for anyone with information in relation to the Legananny incident to contact police immediately.
There have been a total of nine reported attacks on Orange property so far this year in Northern Ireland. In the most severe incident, Ballytyrone Orange hall near Loughgall, was destroyed by arsonists in July.