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Derry Waterfoot Hotel security alert: explosive device made safe

Published 10/10/2015

Officers at the Waterfoot Hotel in Derry after the security alert
Officers at the Waterfoot Hotel in Derry after the security alert

A viable explosive device has been made safe at a Londonderry hotel that had been due to host a PSNI recruitment event.

The device was recovered within the grounds of the Waterfoot Hotel during an alert which began Friday morning.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "A controlled explosion was carried out on the device and initial checks by ATO suggested that it was an elaborate hoax. However, following further examination the object has now been declared a viable Improvised Explosive Device.

This device had the potential to harm anyone in the area and those involved have shown total disregard for human life. We are obviously very thankful that this attack was thwarted and that no one was killed or seriously injured."

Similar alerts at the Millfield Campus of Belfast Metropolitan College and Strule Arts Centre in Omagh which also began yesterday, have now ended and nothing untoward was found.

Forty wedding guests who had travelled from across the UK and America were among those evacuated from the Waterfoot Hotel in the Waterside.

Groom Donal Doherty, who is getting married today to Margaret Johnston, was checking in when he was told he and his guests would have to leave. They and staff were evacuated across the Foyle bridge to Da Vinci's Hotel, part of the Garvan O'Doherty Group that owns the Waterfoot.

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Hundreds of students also faced huge disappointed when their school formal dance at the hotel had to be cancelled.

The evacuation began shortly before lunch-time on Friday just as Mr Doherty and his guests were hoping to relax and enjoy a rehearsal dinner last night.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Doherty said it was the last thing his already stressed bride needed.

He added: "Our guests have travelled from across the UK and America so they are tired and have just arrived in Derry, so instead of coming here we are having to ring around and let them know they have to go somewhere else.

"I was hoping to stay here tonight along with my groomsmen ahead of our wedding in Lough Eske.

"It is the first time in Derry for some of our guests, they will be arriving in the middle of a bomb alert and I don't know what they are going to think.

"I was hoping to check into the bridal suite and have a bit of peace for a couple of hours to write my wedding speech; looks like that's not happening any time soon."

ACC Hamilton added: "Clearly there are people out there in today's society who are still intent on targeting our police service and causing harm to our communities. We know, however, that the actions of these few misguided individuals will not stop people pursuing a career in policing. In fact we've already had approximately 2,400 applications in this current recruitment process.

"I am aware of the disruption that has been caused by these security operations and I would like to thank everyone who has co-operated and worked with our officers throughout.

"I would continue to strongly encourage those interested in joining the PSNI and who want to make a positive contribution to Northern Ireland to come along to one of the familiarisation events taking place today and find out more about the opportunities that exist within the Police Service."

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