PSNI recruitment drive goes ahead at Derry's firebombed Everglades Hotel
A police recruitment drive has gone ahead at a Londonderry hotel despite a recent dissident firebomb attack.
The owner of the Everglades Hotel in the Waterside and the PSNI chiefs agreed that despite the act of intimidation by dissident republicans, the right thing to do was to proceed.
There was a visible, if low key, police presence at the hotel while the event was being staged, which included foot and vehicle patrols as well as an occasional sweep of the perimeter by a sniffer dog.
Police had advertised that they were particularly keen to hear from members of the Catholic community, hoping to build on the number of applications in the last recruitment round.
The PSNI had a total of 7,500 applications for 100 jobs in that round, with 660 of those from G District which covers Derry, Strabane, Magherafelt and Limavady. Of those 200 were from Derry.
While around a dozen people attended the first session of the day, by lunchtime there was only a trickle of people arriving for the hourly information sessions.
Despite this, Superintendent John Magill said it was important the recruitment event went ahead so that the police could have representation from the whole of Northern Ireland.
He added: "For a police service to be effective we really do need representation from the community, because the police service is part of the community. Through these outreach events I think we will achieve a good cross-community representation in this recruitment campaign.
"The statistics show that in the last campaign there was an under representation of people from the Roman Catholic community, but we hope to address that this time.
"The purpose of holding these outreach events in areas such as Foyle, is because we want good representation from the whole community.
"We have had an awful lot of interest about jobs within the PSNI from this area, so it was important to have this event to let those interested in a very challenging yet rewarding career find out what the job entails.
"We have certainly reviewed how we delivered the event in light of what has happened but I don't think it has scared people off.
"I am very encouraged that we have had a lot of local people from within the city attend the sessions.
"The police service is absolutely determined to recruit from across the country and do all we can do draw upon local applicants from across the city."
Hours after a masked bomber left a firebomb in the foyer of the Everglades hotel, owner Sir William Hastings viewed the damage and vowed to get the hotel back in business as quickly as possible.
He said: "It wasn't a difficult decision for us to allow this event to go ahead at all, that wasn't even a decision to be made.
"Not for one second would we say 'you can't have that event in our hotel', that wouldn't be an option at all."