Seagoe Orange Hall hosted a special event on Friday night when its extension was opened by Portadown District Master Darryl Hewitt, assisted by Tom Dickson, a long-standing member of the Lodge, Churchview Seagoe LOL 26.
Drew Nelson, Grand Lodge Secretary, was the guest of honour, along with Denis Watson, County Armagh Grand Master and David Potts, Worshipful Master RBP 110.
The proceedings were introduced by Nigel Magee, Worshipful Master of Seagoe Lodge. Also taking part in the ceremony were George Robinson, Deputy Lay Chaplain, Jason Magee, Lodge Chaplain, Cecil Allen, Portadown District Chaplain and Aaron Webb, Deputy Lodge Master.
There were two 50-year medal presentations – to Tom Dickson and Lewis Roney, with Mr Roney having re-opened the hall after an arson attack in 2007.
Perhaps the most telling address was given by Lodge WM Nigel Magee who recounted the recent history of Seagoe Hall and Lodge – he said that in the run-up to the Millennium, the building was in poor shape and the membership was down to six.
Then, with the help of District Secretary Nigel Dawson, “we rolled up our sleeves”, the hall was restored and the membership started to increase.
But in 2007, the hall was subjected to an arson attack and destroyed. However, by the following June, the hall was renewed with an extension. And with the latest extension – extended meeting area, new kitchen and toilets – the membership now stands at 40 and continues to grow. “This hall and lodge will never be destroyed,” said Mr Magee.
Mr Nelson delivered a strident speech centred on the burning of Orange Halls by the republican movement, pointing out there had been 350 arson attacks on them since 1969.
He added, “For some reason or other, republicans carried out few attacks at the height of the Troubles in the 1970s and 1980s, and then turned its attention to organising their opposition to our parades and to burning our Orange Halls.”
He quoted from “the Gerry Adams Sinn Fein conference speech in County Meath in 1995 that Drumcree did not happen by accident but that three years’ work went into the situation”.
Mr Nelson added that the arson attack on Seagoe in 2007 was not an isolated one, going on to praise the lodge for its re-building programme of hall and personnel, “the best possible answer to republican attacks”.
He added, “Seagoe Orange Hall has not only been re-built. It has been extended and there has been a four-fold increase in the member of the lodge over the past six years.
“This is testament to the hard work of the lodge and district officers.
“I commend you all for your efforts and commitment to the Orange cause.”