Halls attacked in weekend of 'mindless' vandalism

VANDALS who rammed a vehicle into the door of a hall just outside Rathfriland at the weekend have been slammed for "hurting the local community".

Monday, 1st March 2010, 9:50 am
Updated Monday, 1st March 2010, 11:30 am

Hundreds of pounds worth of damage was caused to the Grallagh Unionist Flue Band Hall on the Loughbrickland Road, which celebrates its one hundredth anniversary this year.

As yet it is not known whether the attack took place on Friday or Saturday night but the incident has left the community shocked according to local band member, Mark Bronte.

He said, “The hall has never experienced anything like this in its 100 years in existence.

“The facility is used by many groups from all sides of the community, not just the flute band.

“This is an attack which hurts the entire community and we are all very distressed that this has happened in our area.”

The incident took place around six miles from a similar attack on Annahinchago Orange Hall on the Lacken Road on Saturday morning just hours after Lodge members enjoyed a celebratory meal.

The attack, which included damage to exterior drainpipes, has been condemned by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

A steel flag pole was also broken down and used to damage wire grills protecting the windows in the hall, and an electricity meter was destroyed.

This was the latest in a long list of attacks on the Orange hall, which was badly damaged by arsonists in 1995.

A spokesman for the Orange Order said footprints in the snow showed that there were about three or four people involved in the attack.

“This was clearly a planned attack by a number of people who would have been around the hall for five or 10 minutes,” the spokesman said.

“We would ask anyone in the area who saw anything suspicious to report it to the police.”

South Down UUP MLA John McCallister condemned those responsible for the “mindless attack”.

Banbridge TUV councillor Stephen Herron also expressed his disgust after the attack: "I was disgusted, and angered at what I found at the Orange Hall at Annahinchago.

“This is just the latest of a string of similar attacks - the last of which was only a couple of months ago, However, apart from damage caused in an arson attack in the1990s, this has been the most serious of late.

“The PSNI have a duty to investigate this type of criminality and I hope they will investigate it fully.”