Northern Ireland news

Orange Halls attacked in Co Down

Police are investigating attacks on two Orange Halls in Co Down

TWO Orange halls in Co Down have been targeted in overnight attacks.

Republican graffiti and paint was daubed on the exterior of the halls near Banbridge.

The attacks on theTanvally Orange Hall in Annaclone and Corbet Orange Hall in Corbet, which are less than five miles apart, happened during the early hours of Friday morning.

The Orange Order said it believed the attacks may be linked due to the proximity of the two halls.

It also follows an attempted arson attack at an Orange Hall in Co Armagh last weekend.

Police said paint was thrown at both halls and slogans were also daubed on the walls.

PSNI Chief Inspector Davy Beck said: "We are investigating both incidents as sectarian hate crimes and we would like to hear from anyone with information".

An Orange Order spokesman said the attacks were "clearly coordinated and deliberate criminal acts against the Orange Institution and what it stands for".

"The mindless morons responsible for such callous sectarianism ought to be ashamed of their actions and must be held accountable," he said.

"Their sinister exploits are in no way reflective of the excellent community relations in the Banbridge area, and indeed the members of both lodges are particularly active in their locality.

"The entire community must now unite in condemnation of these incidents.

The spokesman added: "This double attack is particularly sickening coming on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

"Such cowardly crime is in stark contrast to the gallant bravery shown by those who paid the supreme sacrifice 100 years ago."

Twelve Orange halls have been targeted so far this year.

DUP assembly member Jim Wells said: "To have graffiti daubed on the walls stating slogans like 'CIRA' is sinister and deeply upsetting for the whole community and those who use the halls on a regular basis.

"It is particularly sickening to see this type of attack on a day in which we remember and commemorate those who paid the supreme sacrifice and fought at the Somme 100 years ago for our freedom.

"People from both sides of the community fought together, side by side, and today we should be uniting together in remembrance."

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