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Orange hall arson

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Orange hall arson thumbnailAltnaveigh Orange Hall

THERE has been widespread condemnation after the roof of an Orange hall was damaged in a suspected arson attack.

The fire broke out at Altnaveigh Orange Hall on Martins Lane near Newry on Saturday (25 February) evening. The hall has been repeatedly targeted by vandals and is currently covered in graffiti.

Police said shortly after 7.15pm they received a report that a number of tyres had been placed against the rear of the building and set on fire.

Damage was caused to the eaves of the property as a result of the incident and smoke damage caused to the interior of the building.

Police are now working to establish a motive for the incident and are appealing to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area to report it to officers.

Meanwhile, local political representatives have condemned the arson attack.

Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh Assembly election candidate, said the attack was wrong.

He added: "If the objective was to cause community division I am confident that this will not happen. 

“These attacks are no different than attacks on GAA halls, churches and other cultural and community facilities and must be rejected by everyone."

Danny Kennedy, Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate for Newry and Armagh, and Councillor David Taylor have both expressed their disgust at the arson attack.

Mr Kennedy said: "I condemn this hate crime which is deliberately timed by some republicans to raise tensions in the area in the run up to the election. The strategic position of Altnaveigh and its history clearly continues to play on the twisted and bigoted minds of those responsible for this attack."

Meanwhile, Councillor David Taylor said the attack was a sinister attempt to intimidate members of the local Orange Lodge.

“Altnaveigh Orange Lodge is very well renowned and widely respected within the Newry area and all right thinking people will offer strong condemnation of the attack.

“I am very confident that the members of Altnaveigh Orange Lodge will stand firm against this intimidation and I appeal for anyone with information on the attack to report it to the police as soon as possible," he added.

Jackie Coade, Alliance Newry and Armagh Assembly candidate, said she condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms.

“This sort of mindless vandalism achieves nothing but to raise tensions in the community and damage relations. Any right-thinking person will condemn it.

“Nothing positive can be gained by these sorts of incidents. We need to tolerate and respect each other's cultures and leave such senseless acts in the past," Ms Coade said.

Police have asked anyone with information regarding this incident to contact officers in Newry on 101, quoting reference number 1126 25/02/17.

Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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