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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 July 2006, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Arsonists burn down Orange hall
fire engine
An Orange hall in County Armagh has been extensively damaged by fire.

The Fire and Rescue Service said it was believed that arsonists were responsible for the blaze at Kilmore Orange Hall outside Lurgan on Friday.

Spokesman Eugene McNally said the building's meeting hall had been totally destroyed despite having been "very, very well secured".

It is the third time the hall has been attacked and severely damaged by arsonists.

Fire crews were called to the blaze at 2315 BST on Friday. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on Orange halls in the past week.

Accelerant

Mr McNally said entry to Kilmore Orange Hall would have been difficult because the windows were bricked up.

"The only way the fire started was because the culprits managed to break in through the roof and pour an accelerant, which we believe to be petrol, down through the roof and set fire to it."

The DUP's David Simpson said the hall had been rebuilt after previous fires.

"When you have something you have put money into over the years and see it destroyed within 30 minutes, it's a devastating blow," said.

"But as I've said before, the people have said it will be rebuilt and that message will go out and if it happens again, it will be rebuilt again because they will not be put out of this area."

'Sectarianism'

John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein described the attack as "wrong and unacceptable".

"Sectarianism, irrespective of its source, or who or what it is directed against, is wrong and I have no hesitation in condeming this attack," he said.

"Those involved need to desist from this type of behaviour."

The SDLP's Dolores Kelly also condemned the burning of the Orange hall.

"The people who did this are trying to drive us back into confrontation and we must not let them," she said.

"It is sad there are still those who live in our community who wish to stir up sectarian hatred."




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