Northern Ireland

Derry Santander bank damaged by dissident bomb reopens

A bank in Londonderry which had a bomb thrown into it by masked men has reopened after extensive repairs.

Police said the attack on the Santander branch in May could have led to people being killed.

A senior executive of the bank said it was always going to reopen as it was committed to Derry and Northern Ireland in the long-term.

The bank, in the city's Diamond, opened on Tuesday morning to cater for its 6,500 customers who use the branch.

All the staff who were caught up in the bomb - blamed on dissident republicans - are back on duty.

A masked man threw a holdall into the bank just after noon on a busy Saturday morning on 21 May.

A short time later the bomb exploded. No-one was injured as police had cleared the area.

The bomb caused extensive damage to the bank which has had to be be completely restructured.

The bank praised the quick actions of its staff on the day of the bombing and believes it was targeted due to its central location.

Santander said it always intended reopening the branch.

"We are very committed to Northern Ireland at Santander," said David Mackay.

"We have 38 branches in Northern Ireland - two here in the city.

"It never really occurred to us to pull out. It is a very important business for us."

At a time of economic uncertainly the business community also welcomed the company's continued commitment to the city.

"Trading is extremely difficult. We hear all the horror stories from people who are trying to stay open on a day and daily basis," said Jim Roddy, the city centre manager.

"Here we have a shop today - in light of a terrible, terrible act that blew this bank up on a Saturday morning when there were people trying to trade in the city centre - bouncing back and saying we are back and want to stay in the city."

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