Grand Orange Lodge hit out at another attack

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The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has condemned an overnight attack on an Orange hall in north Antrim.

Republican graffiti in relation to the 1916 Easter Rebellion was daubed on the exterior of Rasharkin Orange hall. The property has been subjected to numerous acts of vandalism over the years, the most recent of which was last July.

The Rasharkin attack is the third such incident in as many days following two separate attacks at Strawletterdallon Orange hall in Co Tyrone. Windows and door panels were smashed at the rural building, located near Newtownstewart.

Condemning the latest attack, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, urged those with any information in relation to the incidents to contact police as a matter of urgency.

He said: “It is very concerning that there has been three attacks on two Orange halls over the course of recent days. It is evident through such hate crimes there are those who display their hatred of what the Orange Institution stands for and represents by shamelessly attacking our properties.

“We note the graffiti in Rasharkin refers to the 1916 Rebellion. The Institution recognises that this is a challenging year and we sincerely hope people will not use the centenary of the Easter Rising in a few weeks as an excuse and smokescreen to attack the symbolic buildings of their Protestant neighbours.

“Nonetheless, we would be very confident these attacks on our halls are emanating from a very tiny group of individuals, and are in no way representative of the vast majority of the wider community who are vehemently opposed to such criminality.”

Appealing for no retaliation, the senior Orangeman added: “The Orange Institution very much hopes the forthcoming centenary of the Easter Rebellion passes off peacefully and without any further sectarian attacks.”