THOUSANDS of pounds worth of damage has been caused to an Orange Hall after it was left exposed to two days of rain after thieves ripped lead from the roof in broad daylight.
Two men were seen on the roof of Drumlough Orange Hall in Rathfriland last Tuesday afternoon and threw a lump of lead at a neighbour who attempted to apprehend them.
The men escaped in a car waiting for them nearby, taking a wrought gate from the hall, and leaving it exposed to heavy rainfall which caused internal damage to the building.
The hall was the target of sectarian graffiti in July this year, but police have not confirmed if they were treating the latest incident as sectarian.
Deputy Master Harold Henning said locals and members were shocked at the “brazen attitude” of those involved.
“We cannot believe the audacity of it,” Mr Henning told the Leader. “They ripped up the roof, took up slates, and ripped the felt.
“The lengths to which they went has us concerned that, rather than just trying to steal the lead, they may have been attempting to get inside the hall too.”
Mr Henning said the hall, which had just reopened in recent months after extensive refurbishment, will now have to undergo thousands of pounds worth of repair work.
Attempts were being made last week to make the hall ready for different meetings including one by a women’s breast cancer group.
“This hall is used by the whole community and we think we have been an easy target to attack,” said Mr Henning.
Police said they are appealing to anyone who noticed any activity around the hall on Tuesday afternoon and evening to contact them in Newry on 0845 600 8000 or anonymously at Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
A spokesperson for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland condemned the latest attack on property belonging to the Institution.