North Down DUP MLA Alex Easton has highlighted the continued benefit to communities across Northern Ireland that the de-rating of Orange Halls has delivered.

Mr Easton was speaking after figures he received showed that halls across Northern Ireland had saved nearly £6million since April 2006 when the majority became exempt from paying rates.

The DUP MLA said, ‘With the media focus in relation to the Orange Institution is usually around parades, the huge community role played can sometimes be forgotten. The Orange Institution is the biggest community network in Northern Ireland and its halls are a hub for community activity in every area of the Province.

The estimated total of £5.7million saved since 2006 would otherwise have been paid from the pockets of members of what is an entirely voluntary organisation. Instead, for many halls this money has instead been put into structural improvments and to increase the services they can provide in their local community.

De-rating, along with the resolution of problems in relation to insurance is not just practical assistance which has benefitted communities, but it does so on a long-term and ongoing basis.’