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The BBC's David Eades reports
"A reminder of what bombs can do"
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Ulster Unionist security spokesperson Ken Maginnis
"We are vindicated"
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Alex Maskey, Sinn Fein
"Continuity IRA want to derail the peace process"
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Monday, 7 February, 2000, 18:33 GMT
Warning over new terrorist threat

The bomb damaged hotel at Irvinestown in Fermanagh The bomb damaged hotel at Irvinestown in Fermanagh

Security forces in Northern Ireland have warned against complacency, following a bomb attack by a republican splinter group.

The Continuity IRA has admitted responsibility for the bombing in County Fermanagh on Sunday, and said it will continue its campaign of violence.

No-one was hurt in the attack, but it has put the fragile Northern Ireland peace process under tremendous strain.

It comes as the UK Government rushes legislation through parliament to restore direct rule from London.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan said the Continuity IRA has been a threat for sometime.

He said: "Our activity, the activity of our colleagues in the Garda (Irish police) has thwarted them.

"They were able to carry out this attack last night and we cannot be complacent about further attacks."

The police also believe a bomb which exploded at a County Fermanagh hotel was designed to cause maximum destruction.

The Search for Peace
More related to this story
Link to Republican splinter threat
Link to Sinn Fein
Link to Good Friday Agreement
Link to Decommissioning
The Continuity IRA bomb exploded at Mahon's Hotel at about 1920 GMT on Sunday in Irvinestown, near Enniskillen.

The organisation is the only republican splinter group not observing a ceasefire.

Security sources estimate that the bomb contained between one and two kilograms of a commercial explosive, but the type of explosive used has not yet been identified.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary said the device had been left under an oil tank in a car park at the back of the hotel.

Superintendent Jonathan McIvor: Callous attack
RUC Superintendent Jonathan McIvor said: "It was placed here on a quiet Sunday evening in a position designed to cause maximum destruction.

"This is a disgraceful and callous attack on the Irvinestown community."

Mahon's was evacuated after a man called the hotel and Belfast newsrooms saying he was from the Continuity IRA.

Approximately 80 people were moved out 15 minutes before the explosion.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson said the attack was "not just wrong, it is against the democratically-expressed wishes of the people".

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he "unequivocally condemned" the bombing.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon said the bombers were attempting to affect the peace process.

"Once again we have the paradox of those who were involved and committed to the use of violence and all their murderous activities trying to make up the minds of people politically," he said.

The people here are very much in shock that something like this could happen in a place like Irvinestown
Ryan Williams
One of the hotel's owners, Tommy Mahon, said: "There has been quite a bit of damage, the bottom gable wall is half blown away and the ceilings in the kitchen and toilets have all been brought down."

Joe Mahon, another owner, appealed to Northern Ireland's politicians not to be diverted and to redouble their efforts to bring peace.

He said: "Keep trying to get this thing worked out. Keep working at it and don't let these boys alter it."

He added that the only reason he could see for the hotel being bombed was that it was a "soft target".

Second hotel

A second hotel, the Manor House Hotel in Killadeas, also near Enniskillen, was also mentioned in the warnings.

The building was evacuated but searches failed to uncover a bomb and the warning was declared a hoax.

scene of bomb Two hotels were evacuated
Ryan Williams, a local Irvinestown worker, said: "The people here are very much in shock that something like this could happen in a place like Irvinestown.

"It is one of the most progressive community relations towns in Northern Ireland."

Ulster Unionist security spokesman, Ken Maginnis, MP for the area, said he had been due to visit Mahon's hotel on Monday morning to take part in a meeting about rural transport.

He added the attack underlined the need for paramilitary decommissioning.

Dissident attack feared

BBC Ireland correspondent Denis Murray said the attack was almost certainly designed to embarrass mainstream republicans involved in the peace process.

The Continuity IRA was blamed for a bomb attack in 1996 on the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen during the first IRA ceasefire, although it did not officially admit the attack.

Security chiefs have always feared dissident action, but they believed the Continuity IRA did not have sufficient weaponry to conduct a sustained bombing campaign.

The fear has been that the group has always had the know-how and the means to carry out one-off attacks every few weeks.

The Real IRA, the other dissident republican paramilitary group, has been on ceasefire since the Omagh car bomb attack, for which it admitted responsibility.

The Omagh bomb claimed 29 lives in August 1998.

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See also:
07 Feb 00 |  UK
NI Assembly suspension looms
07 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Bombing follows dissident pattern
18 Mar 99 |  Focus
Continuity IRA - the struggle goes on?
07 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Bomb 'will not derail peace'
06 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Direct rule legal threat
21 Oct 99 |  Northern Ireland
The dissidents who threaten peace
06 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Bomb attack condemned
04 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Sadness surrounding the NI crisis
04 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
The Agreement on decommissioning

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