Newlyweds and their wedding guests were forced to evacuate the dancefloor of a Co Londonderry hotel after a bomb hoax at the weekend.
The Belfray Country Inn, set in the rural Cross area near the village of Drumahoe on the outskirts of Derry city, was cleared for 45 minutes after a warning call was made to police.
SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said the alert caused “absolute chaos and angst” for both guests and staff.
“This was a terrifying and unpleasant experience, not only for the young couple celebrating their wedding, but for their guests and those working in the hotel,” Mr Ramsey said.
“At a time when we are trying to promote tourism and draw people into our city, these kind of moronic attacks are totally unwelcome and must be curtailed.
“Naturally, the owners and staff of this hotel are extremely distressed |following this terrible ordeal. Fortunately this was a hoax and no-one was injured but the fact is it has caused unnecessary stress for innocent people.
“Those responsible offer nothing positive to our community, our economy or our area’s image.
“I strongly appeal to anyone with any information about this incident, or any other attacks, to pass it on to the |police immediately.”
He added that the hoax had put out the wrong message to many guests |visiting from other areas, just weeks after Derry was awarded the title of UK City of Culture.
“Here were people dancing to a band, a couple celebrating the beginning of married life and then this should happen,” he said.
“The owners of this hotel have spent a great deal of time and money restoring it to its former glory and I believe more expansion is planned. These are the people who are actually doing something for the people and the economy of this city, not the idiots who carried this hoax out.”
A PSNI spokesman confirmed the incident was a hoax. “A warning was given about a bomb being abandoned on the Dungiven side of Drumahoe at around 10.15pm on Saturday,” he said.
“The hotel was evacuated and the incident declared a hoax at around 11.30am when guests and staff were allowed to return.”
No-one was available from the Belfray Country Inn to comment.