Convoy Orange hall destroyed by fire

Emergency services attending the overnight fire at Convoy Orange hall in Co. Donegal
Emergency services attending the overnight fire at Convoy Orange hall in Co. Donegal

An Orange hall in Convoy has been destroyed in a fire.

The blaze at Convoy Orange hall in Donegal is the second in the county in a month, following a suspected arson attack which destroyed Newtowncunningham Orange Hall in September.

Gardai are currently working to establish the cause of the fire, which was discovered during the early hours of this morning, Friday, October 3rd.

It is understood that early indications suggest forced entry was made into the building, situated near Raphoe.

The incident is the latest in a spate of attacks on Orange property in the border counties.

As well as the separate arson attack in Newtowncunningham, Carnagh Orange hall in south Armagh was also targeted in an attempted bomb attack last weekend.

Convoy Orange hall, built in the 1930s, is predominantly used by members of Thiepval Memorial LOL 1005 and a local Apprentice Boys Club, as well as a facility for other community activities.

Convoy Worshipful Master Alan Laird said members were “absolutely devastated” by the fire.

He said: “The Orange fraternity in Convoy is just aghast - we are in a complete state of shock. We enjoy fantastic community relations with our Roman Catholic neighbours and have no idea why our hall would be targeted in such a manner.”

He added: “The hall has served as a hub for a range of social activities for generations, and only recently hosted a 100th birthday party. Its immediate loss will be keenly felt but we are determined to see the hall restored again to its former glory.”

Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, said: “It would appear that this incident, although not yet confirmed, is a carbon copy of the recent arson attack at Newtowncunningham.

“If so, it is our belief such criminality will be roundly rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Roman Catholic community in Donegal.”

He added: “Attacks on Orange halls are an insidious form of sectarianism, which by the evidence of recent weeks, are being carried out by a small group of well organised people.”

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has urged any witnesses to contact Gardai as a matter of urgency.

There have been a total of 16 reported attacks on Orange property so far this year in Northern Ireland and the Republic.