Published on Sunday 3 July 2011 10:22
POLICE have appealed for calm after an Orange
Hall in Fermanagh was destroyed by arsonists.
The isolated rural hall at Inver Road, Roslea, was
destroyed in the overnight blaze which was reported
at approximately 6am yesterday morning.
The loyal order and unionist politicians have condemned
the incident, which is not the first time the building
– originally built in 1868 – has been attacked.
There was a less serious attempt to burn the hall last
Orange Order grand secretary Drew Nelson, who visited
the scene yesterday to witness for himself the extent
of the damage, was in no doubt that the blaze was
He said the lodge drew members from both sides of the border.
“It is a very well supported lodge and the hall is effectively the local community centre for Protestants in the area,” he said.
He noted that the attack was carried out on 1 July, a symbolic date in the Protestant calendar and days before a contentious loyalist parade in nearby Newtownbutler.
He also claimed the perpetrators used diversionary tactics to keep emergency services away from the scene of the fire.
When contacted by the News Letter, a fire service spokesperson confirmed a blaze was reported at another location, but it was an actual incident and wasn’t a hoax call.
The spokeswoman said the emergency call regarding the Orange hall was received at 6.17am yesterday and the same appliances as attended the earlier incident attended the scene.
Police said they had no evidence to link the two incidents.
Unionists urged members of the local community to pass on any information they have to the PSNI.
UUP leader Tom Elliott claimed the motivation of the perpetrators was to “foment sectarian tensions”.
“The Protestant community is very much in the minority in this part of Fermanagh and suffered greatly through the Troubles,” he said.
“Despite that, community relations are generally good and it is imperative that we do not permit a small number of people to create tensions which they would then seek to exploit.”
DUP MLA Arlene Foster, who also visited the scene, said: “Attacks such as these are a throwback to our past and they are a reminder that there are a small minority of people who refuse to accept the shared future which the vast majority of people wish to see.”
She added: “I would hope that there will be condemnation of this attack from right across the community, but there must also be an acceptance that those who voice such strident opposition to the Orange institution and to Orange parades help encourage those who then act in this criminal and sectarian manner.”
Sinn Fein MLA for the area, Sean Lynch, also offered his sympathy to the Orange Order.
He said: “There is no place for sectarianism in our society and whether it be attacks on Orange halls, GAA premises, churches or any other building it is wrong.
“Those behind any such attack need to stop and realise their actions are not welcome.”
Last night, the PSNI confirmed the fire was started maliciously.
Appealing for calm, Supt Simon Walls said: “We would ask that cool heads would prevail at this time and there would not be any escalation or tit-for-tat action.
“Reprisals are not the way forward. They only result in raising tensions among communities, as well as depriving local people of facilities.”
Meanwhile, police have confirmed damage was sustained to an arch at Crumlin Orange hall during the early hours of yesterday morning.
It is understood a number of tyres were set alight at the base of the arch at around 4am.
PUP spokesman Ken Wilkinson accused a “mindless minority” of attempting to “whip up tensions” in the town prior to the Twelfth.
A PSNI spokesman said inquiries into the incident were continuing.