Two of the three scheduled PSNI recruitment drive events planned for venues across the North today are to go ahead.
The event which was scheduled for the Watefoot Hotel in Derry had already been cancelled before a bomb alert in order to facilitate a wedding. Police say the event in Derry will go ahead at the same venue, next Saturday, September 17.
The Republican Network for Unity had announced their intention to protest outside the Derry event on Thursday. In response Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: “A large wedding reception will be taking place at the venue on the same date, and as many people will be aware, a protest against our event has been planned. Those who would seek to disrupt the day have shown no thought for others.
“Out of consideration for the bride and groom, and to ensure they can fully enjoy their special day without the possibility of any disruption, we have arranged to reschedule the event.”
However, the Foyle Bridge in Derry was closed for a considerable period of time yesterday afternoon following a security alert at the venue where the PSNI recruitment was due to be held. It eventually re-opened again around 6pm.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: “Police have been responding to concerns that devices may been left at the venues where we are hosting familiarisation events as part of our recruitment campaign. Yesterday, police evacuated the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh, Belfast Metropolitan College, as well as the Waterfoot Hotel in Derry.
“A suspicious object was found in the grounds of the Waterfoot Hotel and a controlled explosion was carried out. An examination was carried out on the object and it was declared an elaborate hoax. This device was deliberately placed to cause disruption to the hotel, its patrons and the wider community in Derry and must be condemned by all who strive to achieve success and prosperity for the city. Police remain at the scene in Derry and the alerts in Omagh and Belfast unfortunately look set to continue into the night.
“We have been working closely with the venues who are hosting the events and the two planned for Omagh and Belfast tomorrow, will go ahead as scheduled. The Derry event has been postponed until next Saturday, 17 October.
“These are shameless acts that demonstrate no regard for the people living and working in these areas and have been designed to disrupt communities.
“I am aware of the disruption that has been caused by this security operation and I would like pay tribute to all the communities who have co-operated and worked with our officers to ensure disruption was minimal.
These are shameless acts that demonstrate no regard for the people-ACC Hamilton
“I would strongly encourage everyone to come along to one of the familiarisation events taking place and find out more about the opportunities that exist within the Police Service.
“As part of our recruitment campaign, we are looking for people who want to make a positive contribution to Northern Ireland and are committed to making a difference.
“We are committed to ensuring that the Police Service is reflective of our society and welcome applications from across all sections of the community.”
Meanwhile a Derry man whose wedding will take place in Derry said his nuptials will not be disrupted by the actions of those who left the hoax device in the hotel where his guests were due to stay on Friday night (October 9).
Donal Doherty, who himself works as a wedding photographer said he was preparing to step out into frame for his own wedding he received an alarming text from his sister advising there was a security alert at the hotel where dozens of his guests from Britain and the United States are due to stay last night.
He had, in fact, been going to the hotel himself to start work on his speech when the news arrived.
“Obviously, I’m a wedding photographer, I’m getting married myself tomorrow, so it’s the other side of all this.
Speaking yesterday he said: “We are actually getting married down at Lough Eske but all the guests are staying here tonight, so we have 30 to 40 guests from all over the UK, America, just about to arrive here to check in, and actually myself, I was coming here to go into the bridal suite and write my speech for tomorrow, just to have two hours off.
“Obviously, I’ve arrived here and...there’s been this incident.”
At the scene yesterday DUP MLA Gary Middleton said it was deeply concerning for people living in the houses across the street from the hotel.
“People of this area are completely sick to the teeth of this kind of activity.
“My understanding is that a warning was given to the police that there may be a device or that there would be a device within the premises of the Waterfoot.
“So obviously that’s deeply concerning for, not only the police, but for ourselves
“Regardless of what happened here there’s the fear factor. “
Mr Middleton added: “There’s a lot of residents came out today and they are absolutely disgusted but they are scared about how this has happened so close to their homes.”