Unionist parties condemn arson attack at Orange Hall in Derry

Unionist parties condemn arson attack at Orange Hall in Derry

POLICE IN Derry are treating an arson attack at an Orange Hall near Magherafelt as a hate crime.

It comes after Ballynougher Orange Hall in the Aghagaskin Road area was extensively damaged in a deliberate fire on Sunday.

Police believe the perpetrators broke in through a window at the rear of the property in order to start the blaze using an accelerant.

“An investigation is underway and we are treating the incident as a hate crime,” Detective Sergeant Brian Reid said in a statement on Monday.

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service crews from Maghera and Magherafelt helped bring the flames under control by providing water for a turntable ladder from Springfield on Sunday evening.

Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Jeffrey Donaldson tweeted on Sunday to condemn the attack.

"Another burning Orange Hall, youths chanting pro-IRA songs, thugs desecrating memorials to victims," he said.

"Some republicans seem intent on crushing the unionist spirit. We will not respond to this provocation with violences. We will respond with a solid determination to stand our ground."

Traditional Unionist Values Mid Ulster spokesperson Glen Moore said the attack "represents a serious escalation of what has been a series of sinister developments in south Co Londonderry in recent weeks."

“Condemnation from politicians would be welcome in so far as it goes but we need more. Recently Ms O’Neill who is an MLA for the area refused to condemn the glorification of the IRA in sick songs which have in the aftermath been deployed by Republicans seeking to intimidate the minority community in Mid Ulster.

"You cannot celebrate those who murdered Orangemen in Orange Halls one day and condemn attacks on Orange Halls the next."

DUP Cllr Anne Forde said:

"This lodge is well rooted in the community and has been here for over 100 years. The folks in the lodge just want to be respected and be able to celebrate their Orange culture. Those who are so intolerant as to want the hall destroyed need removed from our streets. This is not an attack on bricks and mortar, it is an attack on the people who use that facility."