The fire-bomb attack on the Everglades Hotel last night was “an attack on jobs”, according to local MLA William Hay.
Mr Hay joined with others in speaking out against the fire-bombing. He said: “I was there this morning and saw the devastation that it caused. We’re very lucky we’re not looking at a fatality. I’m shocked at the damage.
“It absolutely has to be condemned. The Hastings Group employs several hundred people so this is an attack on jobs and economic development. It is an attack on everybody. This is comes as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board is giving several awards for the events during the very successful UK City of Culture celebrations during 2013. The Everglades played a big part in that.
“These people represent nobody.”
His comments were echoed by Justice Minister David Ford, who 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.
“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.”
The Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, also pointed to the potential negative impact after a highly positive 2013: ““Once again we see a reckless attempt to kill and injure innocent people going about their daily business. Extensive damage has now been caused to one of our premier hotels, which is venue of choice for many visitors to Northern Ireland’s walled city.
“It is extremely fortunate there were no injuries sustained by guests, staff or the police officers who attended the scene. The heroic actions of the Everglades staff are to be praised as they worked to ensure the safety of their guests.
“Last year, Londonderry hosted the UK City of Culture programme and the investment associated with it transformed the City. It was an overwhelming success that created a lasting legacy. Incidents such as this have the potential to damage the positive impact that has been made to date, however I know that the people of Londonderry are fully supportive in taking the City forward.
“I know that almost without exception the local community will be appalled by last night’s attack and I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the police.”
The Chairman of Hastngs Hotels, Sir William Hastings, also highlighted the potential economic impact of the attack, saying: “The main loser here is the city of Derry, 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 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.”
Sir Hastings said the hotel will be reopened and back in business again as quickly as possible.