Northern Ireland

Everglades Hotel reopens after firebomb attack

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Media captionThe finishing touches were put in place at the Everglades Hotel as it reopened to the public

A Londonderry hotel that was badly damaged in a firebomb attack has reopened.

A masked man, who said he was from the IRA, placed a hold-all bag containing the device in the reception area of the Everglades Hotel on Thursday night.

The hotel was evacuated but the firebomb burst into flames as an Army technical officer tried to examine it.

No-one was injured in the attack but the fire caused extensive damage to the hotel lobby.

Police said it had also caused "a lot of smoke and water damage throughout the building".

'Business as usual'

The Everglades, part of the Hastings Hotel Group, is the starting point for the Derry Walled City Marathon which is due to take place on Sunday.

Stephen Meldrum, a senior manager with Hastings Hotels, said staff and contractors had worked through Friday night to get the hotel ready to receive guests again.

He said the company has received "tremendous support" in the area since the attack and was keen to represent the city of Derry and "show that it is business as usual".

The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness visited the hotel on Saturday afternoon and said the city was still open for business.

"I think that the people of this city won't lie down under this. This is absolutely despicable and unacceptable behaviour," he said.

"I think there will be a very clear message going out from the people of this city to those who were responsible for endangering the lives of the workers here, endangering the lives of the residents and endangering the reputation of this city."

On Friday, the local police commander, PSNI Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin, described those responsible for carrying out the firebomb attack as "cowards".

He praised staff who had worked to evacuate the building, saying they had "no doubt saved lives".

Mr Cargin said the hotel had recently hosted a PSNI recruitment event, but added that detectives would be "keeping an open mind here as to who is behind this attack".

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