I was browsing the DUP website earlier and found this section and one part of it particularly caught my attention.
9: No Rates for Orange Halls
In the negotiations the DUP pressed the Government to reduce the burden on Orange Halls by exempting them from Rates. The government accepted our case. In February the Government forwarded proposals for consultation. These new measures should be in force from next April.
“I am delighted that the DUP has succeeded in persuading the Government to abolish rates from buildings such as Orange Halls. This will be a tremendous boost to many halls all across the Province and a great victory for the Orange Order.””
Grand Master, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland
Now, this sounds like a terrific achievement on behalf of the Orange Institution, and I am told than the Grand Master has written to every private lodge in Northern Ireland to inform them of this. I however have one concern. It is my understanding that the de-rating of Orange Halls is dependant on them re designating as “Community” halls. This then opens them for use to the entire community, which presumably includes “concerned residents” groups seeking to disrupt Orange parades, the local Sinn Fein branch or perhaps any future IRA old boys club. These groups would I assume want the hall stripped of flags and photographs relating to the Order.
I am also told that should any lodge request that their hall be de-rated, they will be told where to go. There is precisely no evidence of this what so ever! No Orange Hall has been de rated, yet the DUP boasting about an achievement that is yet to materialise!
Well done DUP!