Arson attack destroys Orange hall near Pomeroy

Bonn Orange Hall The hall has been gutted by the fire

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An Orange hall in County Tyrone has been destroyed in an arson attack.

Fire crews were called to Bonn Orange Hall near Pomeroy, at about 0300 BST on Thursday.

Police said the attack was an attempt to trigger community tension. The same hall was extensively damaged in an arson attack in 2008.

Richard Reid, a trustee of the hall, said it was well over 100 years old. He said the hall would be rebuilt when compensation came through.

"We're supposed to be in a new era, yet there are a lot of people in this area apparently can't give us space to live," he added.

"We hear a lot of talk about a new Ireland and a new future, but unfortunately the outlook for us seems to be that we're not part of that, we're not wanted in that area."

'Sectarian'

PSNI Superintendent Alywin Barton said: "We should all be clear on this, the single and primary motivation was to provoke retaliation.

"Two years ago we had a situation in Mid-Ulster in which there were eight tit-for-tat incidents in the space of 12 days with both orange halls and GAA clubs targeted.

"We do not want to see a repeat of that. I implore you - do not allow yourself to be manipulated by these individuals and their agenda, do not react."

Ian McCrea, the DUP MLA for the area, said the destruction of the hall was "a blatant sectarian attack."

He added: " What we have witnessed in Pomeroy is a demonstration of intolerance and an attempt to remove Protestants from this community.

"These attempts have failed in the past and this will fail again."

The MP for Mid Ulster, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, also condemned the attack.

He said it was "clearly aimed at raising tensions" before this weekend's Apprentice Boys parades.

He added that the perpetrators were "motivated solely by sectarian bigotry" and are "no different" to those who carry out attacks on GAA halls, churches and other cultural and community facilities.

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