DERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND, May 30 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – A former member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who served 18 years in prison and who is now a Sinn Fein Councillor has told RIA Novosti that he strongly condemns the bombing of a hotel in Derry last night (Thursday) carried out by dissident republicans claiming to be the IRA.
"This attack has to be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” Councillor Paul Fleming told RIA Novosti. “Not only did it puts lives at risk it also put livelihoods in jeopardy.”
"Derry is a city looking forward and we will not be held back by those who want to drag us back to the past,” Fleming added.
The attack happened at the Everglades Hotel in the city of Derry just after 11:00 p.m. local time (10:00 p.m. GMT) on Thursday. A masked man entered the hotel and threw a holdall, containing an explosive device, into the main reception, telling staff he was from the IRA.
A short time later, as army bomb disposal officers worked on the device, it exploded into a fireball.
Staff and resident were successfully evacuated and no casualties were reported. The army bomb disposal officer was not injured.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland had recently held a recruitment drive at the hotel and it is understood this is the reason it was targeted by dissident republicans who oppose the peace process.
Fleming, who was released from prison in 1992 for the murder of a civilian in a Provisional IRA bombing, told RIA Novosti the republican dissidents responsible for last night’s attack were out of step with wider Irish opinion.
"It's time these people caught up with the mood and wishes of the Irish people and abandon their activities,” Fleming added.
A number of splinter groups have emerged since the main Irish republican paramilitary organisation, the Provisional IRA, formally announced an end to its “armed struggle” in July 2005.
Each of these splinter groups claims to be the “rightful successor” of the title Irish Republican Army, but dissident republican groups do not have significant support in nationalist and republican areas of the North of Ireland.