Page last updated at 22:32 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 23:32 UK

Hall petrol bombing 'murder bid'

Clifton Street Orange Hall
About 50 people were attending a meeting inside the hall

A petrol bomb attack on an Orange hall in Belfast was attempted murder, an Orange Order spokesman has said.

The attack happened at Clifton Street Orange Hall, near Carisle Circus, on Tuesday night while about 50 Orangemen were meeting inside.

Police were called about 2210 BST and found one petrol bomb burnt out on the ground close to the hall. Three others were found nearby.

Orange Order spokesman Rev Mervyn Gibson called for no retaliation.

"We don't know who did it, it could have been local thugs, but we would worry more in case it was dissidents," he said.

"I think clearly they're trying to provoke a reaction from the unionist community generally - we had all the bomb scares the other day and if you attack a hall with people in it, it's basically attempted murder.

"So certainly they're trying to up the ante, but we want no retaliation."

No-one was injured in the attack and damage was superficial.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has condemned the attack.


"Clearly there are people out there who cannot reconcile themselves to democracy or moving forwards. They should be ostracised and brought to justice," he said.

A steel cage which protected the hall for more than 30 years was removed last month as part of a Belfast city council initiative to improve the appearance of main roads going into the city centre.

Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin also condemned the attack.

"This attack has no justification behind it other than blatant sectarianism. Let me make it clear- sectarianism has no place in North Belfast," she said.

"The Orange Hall has just had its protective shutters removed as local community and political representatives are working hard on the ground to improve and enhance community relations alongside trying to develop the overall appearance of one of the main arterial routes into North Belfast.

"Any attacks of this nature need to be stopped immediately and those behind the attack need to realise there is no support whatsoever for this kind of activity from our communities."

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