Three arrests after Marine Hotel attacks

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THREE men were arrested this morning (WED) following two nights of attacks on the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle, writes Chris Kilpatrick.

The trio - all said to be from the town and aged between 18 and 20 - were arrested by police in the vicinity of the Marine shortly after midnight.

A police spokesman said he was unaware as yet of any motive for two nights of attacks on the building during which at least a dozen windows were smashed.

He was unable to confirm reports a number of televisions were flung from the building during last night’s incident.

Independent councillor Seamus Blaney said he was “very disappointed” someone would attack the hotel which forms at integral part of the seafront promenade in the town.

SDLP councillor Donal Cunningham described the attacks as “wanton violence and destruction” by “mindless thugs”.

“It is important the community continues to promote Ballycastle as a great place to live, work and visit,” he said.

The Marine Hotel is currently up for sale. It closed at Christmas 2010 and went into receivership in May 2011.

It has been listed for sale with an asking price of £800,000.

Having been a focal point of the town for years, the closure of the Maine Hotel dealt a serious blow to businesses in Ballycastle and the community as a whole with numerous local clubs and societies using it as a venue for dinners, celebrations and fundraisers.

It also catered for countless weddings.

Earlier this month Robin Swann, North Antrim UUP MLA and member of the Stormont Agriculture and Culture Committees, challenged Invest Northern Ireland to urgently implement a plan of action “to breathe new energy into Ballycastle’s Marine Hotel and bring it back to life economically”.

Mr Swann said it was “exceptionally sad to see that this once proud Marine Hotel was in receivership and was sitting empty and unused”.

“At present, Ballycastle, which is a key town on the Causeway Coastal Route, does not have any hotel facilities,” he said.

“Here we have the Marine Hotel, sited in the middle of the sea front, lying empty and neglected. The lack of hotel facilities means that many tourists and visitors to the town will not stop or stay over.

“Ballycastle and north Antrim depends heavily on tourism for trade and income and it is of prime importance that the Marine is opened again without further delay.”

Mr Swann’s words were echoed by Moyle UUP Councillor Joan Baird, who said that she had brought the issue of the Marine Hotel to the attention of Moyle Council and again at the Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism Partnership planning meeting.

Councillor Baird said that it was very bad that Ballycastle would miss out on much of the trade from the Irish Open Golf this summer because the Marine was shut.

Councillor Baird added: “When I am shopping in Ballycastle, I frequently see tourists trying the door of the Marine, which is of course locked.

“The Marine Hotel is important to tourism and indeed to local people who used it as a venue for weddings and funerals.

“I sincerely hope my party colleague Robin Swann’s intervention will be successful in having the hotel brought back to life and that is can again be a centre point for tourists and the community alike,” said councillor Baird.