MLA concern at Protestants ‘targetted for belief’ during Twelfth

PROTESTANTS were targeted for their beliefs in a number of incidents in mid Ulster over the Twelfth, according to Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend.

The MLA said she was concerned at the number of incidents in various villages adding that a bottle had been thrown at those locking up an Orange Hall in Bellaghy and while the target was missed, children could have been hurt.

She also claimed a member of the Orange Order in Castledawson had his windows smashed on the 11th night.

“I understand there were other sectarian incidents in the village, Furthermore the Orange Arch was vandalised at the weekend,” she said.

“I am disgusted that some take the opportunity of the Twelfth celebrations to cause public disorder and intimidate people for their beliefs. I believe that the Orange brethren in Mid-Ulster went the extra mile to accommodate the different ranges of views in their area and to open their events to everyone, but it is unfortunate that this was not reciprocated by everyone in the nationalist/republican community.”

However Mrs Overend said she really enjoyed the Twelfth Celebrations and congratulated ‘all those who put in the huge effort to ensure that the day’s events ran smoothly, despite tensions and mindless acts of violence against people and property in various villages over the holiday period’.

Sandra said: “The twelfth is a fantastic celebration of our culture and heritage and it is great to hear that people travel from all over the world to come to Northern Ireland to participate or witness this important element of our lives here.

“Our South Londonderry event in Ballyronan this year was most enjoyable with a great array of colours and music and a large turnout of Orange brethren. We were more than encouraged by the fantastic weather, and I am sure that the participants were encouraged by the large number of spectators along the route.

“Our friends in Stewartstown also enjoyed a composed and relaxed day and it was good to hear that events went according to plan.

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those involved in the organisation of the Twelfth celebrations in Mid-Ulster, on the erection and taking down of bunting, flags and arches, and for the ensuring that the day was enjoyed by so many.