First Minister condemns Hall attacks

First Minister Ian Paisley’s ears must have been burning at the small protest in Hillsborough last night, where one disgruntled Orangeman was heard to say that ‘whilst Ian Paisley is basking in the warmth of Wall Street, we are warming in the blaze of our own halls’. Slugger understands there is some grumbling inside the Orange particularly against the First Minister and his son and Junior Minister, Ian Paisley junior, not least over the inaction on an insurance logjam for Orange Halls, which is having the effect of putting those halls that are attacked out of public use until such times as a long process involving both police and insurance companies is complete. After a long radio silence on the matter, the First Minister has finally called on the Secretary of State to streamline that claims process so that halls can more quickly get back into use. It is understood that the block lies in the PSNI’s inability to define the attacks as being part of a concerted campaign:

Under current legislation, a group such as the Orange Order needs a Chief Constable Certificate in order to make a claim after an attack. To obtain one, it must be proven that a criminal organisation was responsible for the damage or that three or more people were responsible.

Bobby Saulters, Grand Master had this to say:

“The Orange Institution has invested a considerable amount of time, effort and finance in opening up its halls for community use in order to help bring isolated rural communities out of the trauma suffered by them during the Troubles. These on going attacks and the absence of an adequate Government response to them has led the Institution to doubt what practical benefits the St Andrews Agreement and subsequent establishment of the devolved assembly have brought to our community.”

It has been noted in certain Orange circles that Dr Paisley’s announcement came on the heels of condemnation of the attacks from Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, and Reg Empey.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty