AN attack on Crosskeys Orange Hall has all the hallmarks of “a blatant sectarian hate campaign against the Protestant community” in the area.
That's according to UUP Councillor Sam Nicholson, who is a member of both the Orange Lodge and Crosskeys Victoria Flute Band who use the hall.
He said the incident goes beyond vandalism, adding he was “totally disgusted” at whoever carried out the attack.
“It is a despicable act and clearly was an attempt to gain access to the interior to cause as much damage as they could. This is not the first attack on our hall but thankfully once again they failed,” said Cllr Nicholson.
“I have spoken to some of my fellow lodge and band members regarding the attack and once again they all feel violated by this incident. Folk in the area are shocked and saddened that there are those who would seek to inflict misery and heartache upon our local rural community.
“This behaviour should not be tolerated by any element within our society and it must be unreservedly condemned by everyone.”
Cllr Nicholson added that he had no doubt that people trying to stir up sectarian division in a community where there is none were behind the incident. He said they must not be allowed to succeed.
“These people have a deep-seeded hatred for all things Protestant but thankfully they are a minority in this area,” he said.
"This Orange Hall is a focal point for our rural community and its use extends well beyond Loyal Order activities.
“I am demanding action from the Government on these attacks, greater activity from the PSNI and a genuine attempt on behalf of nationalists and republicans to give the information to the police which will help apprehend those responsible.
“The Northern Ireland Office also has a significant role to play in the restoration of Orange Halls which suffer attacks such as this, which was clearly a sectarian, so I hope they step up to the mark and provide adequate compensation in a timely manner.
“This is an absolutely vile and dastardly attack on our rural community, and I urge anyone with information to report it to the PSNI by contacting them on 101.”