Attacks on Orange Halls

Part of Private Members’ Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 am on 11th September 2007.

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Photo of Mary Bradley Mary Bradley Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:00 am, 11th September 2007

I am saddened to think that we even have to discuss such a subject, given that we are supposed to be living in a new political era that should give rise to only peacefulness, prosperity and genuine cross-community collaboration.

In this new political era, we, as politicians, must remember that we are measured not only by our actions but by our words. An attack on any community building — in this case, on Orange Halls — is an attack on the entire community. Orange Halls can be, and are currently being, used for cross-community purposes such as playschools where, in some areas, children from both sides of the community come together to learn and to play. Perhaps we should all go back to that age, where creed, colour and denomination play no part in deciding whether we participate with one another.

I feel that it is best to leave this issue with an example from Cavan in the South of Ireland. When an Orange Hall was vandalised and put beyond use, Catholics and Protestants collaborated to rebuild the hall. The Govern­ment saw fit to encourage those actions and gave grant aid of €30,000 to complete the project, as should happen in any civilised society. The Orange Hall was rebuilt and re-established.

Therefore, let us today encourage cross-community condemnation of attacks on any community building, and let us not dwell on the past. I hope that we have all learnt something about progressing the issue and that, most importantly, we learn to respect all buildings, irrespective of who owns or uses them.

I support the amendment.