Orange Hall Attacks 'Are Hate Crimes'

Article excerpt

Byline: BY PHILIP BRADFIELD p.bradfield@newsletter.co.uk

THE PSNI has confirmed that the 250 arson attacks on Orange Halls since 1989 qualify as hate crimes.

Hate crime has recently become a police priority and is defined as any incident which is perceived to have been committed against another person because of their race, religion, political opinion, disability or sexual orientation.

The attacks only began after the formation of opposing republican residents' groups and are estimated to have caused around pounds 8 million of damage to halls.

Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Secretary Drew Nelson said: "In the first 20 years of the Troubles, which were some of the worst, there were only four arson attacks on Orange Halls.

"After the formation of residents' groups across the Province in 1989, the figures just took off.

"Our records show almost 250 arson attacks since then.

"Gerry Adams is on record as saying it took a lot of effort to start the opposition these groups provided and we now have over 200 police certificates saying the attacks were perpetrated by 'illegal organisations'.

"To us that means the PIRA, and the objective was to heighten tension for recruitment and retention of its supporters.

"We will be writing to the Chief Constable to get confirmation that all attacks on Orange Halls will now be treated as hate crimes.

"It is our understanding that some are and some aren't, depending on the district. …