Belfast Telegraph

Derry hotel bomb: Everglades Hotel left badly damaged in explosion 'had hosted PSNI recruitment event'

Hotel owner vows to open business just 24 hours after blast

By John Mulgrew and PA

A hotel which was left badly damaged after a dissident bomb ripped through its reception hosted a PSNI recruitment event just one week before the attack.

Meanwhille today, the PSNI's new chief constable in-waiting has vowed to bring to justice the dissident republicans behind the fire bomb attack on Thursday night.

George Hamilton, who was yesterday appointed to succeed Matt Baggott in the high profile role, said those who abandoned the incendiary at the Everglades hotel had no regard for Northern Ireland or its citizens.

The explosion has also been described as an attack on the whole city, according to Foyle MP Mark Durkan.

It's also understood the hotel had recently hosted a PSNI recruitment event.

A holdhall containing the device was left at the reception by a masked man claiming to be from the IRA - the name a number of dissident factions claim as their own. He told staff they had 40 minutes to evacuate the building.

The blast bomb detonated a short time later as Army bomb disposal officers were urgently working to defuse it. No-one was injured in the explosion.

The owners of the Londonderry hotel have said they will be back to business on Saturday following the attack.

Sir William Hastings, chairman of Hastings Hotels, said the blast could damage the city's burgeoning tourism industry.

Justice Minister David Ford condemned those behind the bombing.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said those responsible were trying to drag the city backwards.

"People of Derry won't see this as an attack against a particular site but, in fact, an attack against the whole city," he said.

"So many people are working hard to move the city forward, but those behind this device are trying to drag us all back to worse times. Such methods demonstrate only a negative, violent capacity, not a viable strategy or credible rationale.

"The nature of the device, and the manner of this reckless attack, show that they are a threat to anyone and everyone. That is why we must be united and strong in rejecting their ways, and affirming peace and progress as our chosen determined collective right."

Speaking on Friday morning, PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said:

"I think the fact it has happened indicates some of the challenges that face us," the long-serving officer said in his first public appearance since landing the promotion.

"These are people who are opposed to peace, they are people who are trying to use violence, who are damaging the economic well-being of the country, who are taking jobs off people and they don't actually care about this place or about the citizens of it - I do, deeply.

"We will be doing everything in our power possible to prevent occurrences like that and when they do occur we will be doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice."

A PSNI spokeswoman praised "the swift actions of hotel staff and responding police officers in ensuring all guests were quickly evacuated".

"Their actions have undoubtedly helped to prevent a tragedy," she added.

Justice Minister David Ford said: "This attack comes on the back of a positive year with Derry showing the world what it has to offer with the success of the City of Culture and the all Ireland Fleadh," he said.

"This is a reckless attack and those responsible have shown a total disregard for life.

"Thankfully, primarily because of the swift action of the hotel staff, there have been no injuries.

"I know that the overwhelming majority of Derry people will be appalled by this attack, and we stand with them against those who want to stop their city moving forward."

Sir William Hastings, chairman of Hastings Hotels, said:

"The main loser here is the city of Derry-Londonderry, a city which does not deserve this after the excellent work in attracting more and more visitors in recent years.

"This despicable action has the potential to damage the tourism industry in Derry-Londonderry but with my experience of the people in the city and their resolve I am confident this will not deflect them from their efforts to help continue to take the city forward.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said those responsible were "doomed to fail".

"The perpetrators need to understand that this type of activity didn't work in the past, won't work now, nor in the future," he said.

"The Walled City Marathon. which starts from this venue at the weekend will continue as normal, life will go on as usual, these individuals are doomed to fail."

Further reading

Hotel bomb 'attack on whole city' 

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