A fundraising drive has been launched to help rebuild a County Armagh Orange Hall destroyed in an arson attack earlier this month.
Ballytyrone Orange Hall, on the Creenagh Road at Loughgall, was extensively damaged when it was targeted in a late night attack on Thursday, July 2.
Police were alerted to the incident shortly before midnight.
Fire crews attended the scene at the rural country hall, which is used by a lodge with just 26 members and by Ballytyrone Accordion Band.
They do not know how much it will cost to repair the damage and, at present, in the run-up to the Twelfth celebrations, have been using Loughgall Orange Hall.
Lodge members have been overwhelmed by the support of the local community.
Newry and Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin, who was one of the first on the scene to survey the damage in the aftermath of the attack, had expressed his shock and revulsion.
But that was coupled with the resolve to rebuild.
Speaking at the scene at the time, Mr Irwin, a recent past master of the lodge, said: “I have been a lifelong member of the lodge and I cannot understand the mindset of those who choose to stir up sectarian strife in what is a quiet mixed community who all get along very well.
“I appeal for cool heads at this time and plead for no retaliation.
“Despite my personal distress and that of our members at the scene of wanton destruction at Ballytyrone I can assure the community that we will come back bigger and better from this cowardly and mindless attack on our hall.”
Now the intention is indeed to rebuild but that will require extensive fundraising.
Collections are to be taken up at County Armagh’s flagship Twelfth celebrations in Bessbrook tomorrow (Monday), and at the Royal Black Institution’s annual ‘Sham Fight’ event and parade in Scarva on Tuesday.
A page has also been set up on ‘Go Fund Me’. And, while the cost of repairs is hard to quantify at this time, a target of £2,000 has been set. So far donations via the page have amounted to £360 but it is a figure which is hoped will rise in the coming days and which will be swelled by donations at the ‘Twelfth’ and ‘Thirteenth’.
The Go Fund Me page states: “Ballytyrone Orange Hall is a small rural hall outside Loughgall in Co. Armagh. On Thursday 2nd of July the hall was totally destroyed by an arson attack.
“The small lodge is committed to rebuild the hall which was used by Ballytyrone Accordion Band and other groups.
“With your support we can build bigger and better for the future.”
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