An attack on a Co Down Orange Hall has been described as a “hate crime” by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
The incident was discovered at Finnis Orange Hall on Rathfriland Road outside Dromara village on Thursday evening.
Images posted by Rathfriland District LOL No.3 show damage to a stained glass window in the hall.
Sir Jeffrey, who attended the hall alongside MLA Emma Little-Pengelly, said the incident was “an attack on our culture”.
“Nestled in the Dromara Hills, Finnis Orange Hall is an integral part of the local community here.
“There are good social relationships. Unfortunately there is a minority, a small minority of people who just want to cause trouble. That’s wrong, that’s to be condemned. It’s a hate crime.”
The PSNI has confirmed that they are investigating the incident and are treating it as a sectarian hate crime.
Ms Little-Pengelly wrote on social media: “Finnis Orange enjoys a positive relationship with the wider community, with the hall being used by many people from a variety of backgrounds.
“This is to be welcomed and it is therefore particularly sad to see this sectarian attack which has shocked all involved with the hall.
“Enough of hatred and attacks. This is not the future and we must all unite to eradicate intolerance.”
In a statement, Mark Graham of Rathfriland District Lodge said the incident caused thousands of pounds of damage and the lodge said it was the first time the hall had been attacked in 51 years.
“When I arrived at the Finnis Orange Hall for a district meeting last Thursday night, I was made aware of the incident of an attempt to break the memorial’s stained glass window at the front of the Orange Hall,” he said.
“Anyone familiar with Finni’s Orange Hall will recognize the beautiful stained glass window dedicated to the late Bro Guy Megarry by his family.
“The Finnis Orange Hall is well set back from the main road and has a wall and gates around the boundary. This was a premeditated attack on the hall, in which the individuals made the decision to walk out, enter the car park and cause thousands of pounds of damage to the memorial window, and for what other reason than to stoke tensions within the local community.”
In a statement, Neighborhood Inspector Adam Corner said: “Police received a report on Thursday October 13 that a stained glass window had been damaged.
“Our investigation into this incident, which we are treating as a sectarian hate crime, continues and we are appealing to anyone who has become aware of any recent suspicious activity in the area, or who may have any information, to come forward. ”
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/sir-jeffrey-donaldson-condemns-attack-on-co-down-orange-hall-as-incident-being-treated-as-sectarian-hate-crime-42070292.html Sir Jeffrey Donaldson condemns attack on Co Down Orange Hall as incident being treated as ‘sectarian hate crime’