When members of Ballintoy Orange Lodge arrived at their hall in the village on the morning of the 12th of July, they found a Union Flag had been stolen and replaced with an Irish tricolour flag.
Wesley Craig, the Worshipful Master the lodge (LOL803), said: “I have spoken to many people from Ballintoy since this hate crime was carried out and they, like the lodge members, are extremely disappointed.
“This year was no different to any other: residents and tourists from all sections of the community came out to see the band and lodge members walk through the village on the Twelfth morning and back again on the return leg that same evening.
“I would call on our locally elected representatives, from all parties, to roundly condemn this attack; this is neither respectful nor tolerant – two wishes repeated almost daily by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance.
“Extensive renovation work was carried out on the hall last year and as a result of that we have been able to let out the adjoining living quarters to tourists and visitors from across the world.
“We are trying to promote our beautiful area and give people the opportunity to spend their holiday in the heart of the north coast. What, then, must these very people think when they learn of this attack? The area and every business that relies on their spend suffers.
“This is a tightknit community and we all have to live together,” the News Letter reported Mr Craig as saying.
The PSNI said the Union Flag was suspected to have been stolen from the property between 9:30pm on Thursday and 8:20am on Friday.
It is being treated as a sectarian-motivated hate crime.
Traditional Unionist Voice leader and North Antrim Assembly Member, Jim Allister, said on Facebook: “PSNI any interest in this aggravated hate crime, or too busy worrying about ‘Soldier F’ banners?
“Another brazen attack on Unionist culture in North Antrim by unreconstructed republicanism.”