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Thursday 19 July 2018

'You go to bed late at night and all these things hit your head' - Staff at Regency Hotel attended counselling in aftermath of shooting

The Regency Hotel is rebranding as the Bonnington
The Regency Hotel is rebranding as the Bonnington
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The manager of the former Regency Hotel said that staff were left traumatised and needed counselling after a gunman shot David Byrne to death in the hotel reception area.

Gunmen impersonating gardai burst through the doors during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency on Dublin's Northside on February 5 last year.

Kinahan gangster David Byrne (34), from Crumlin, was shot dead in the incident.

General manager John Glynn told RTE's Liveline that the hotel owners offered all staff counselling in the aftermath of the shooting.

"(The owners) invested heavily in getting support to look after all those who were affected. It was important at the time. I went for counselling because of the obvious reasons. It was a great help and it was very effective.

"You go to bed late at night, you lie down and all these things hit your head and you've got to get up the next morning and deal with it the best you can. The counselling was of great help and was worthwhile.

"Nobody in the hotel lost their life. There was nobody in the staff who got injured on that day. There was no loss of jobs. We regrouped as a business and looked on the positive side."

The hotel, owned by the McGettigans, has now re-branded as the Bonnington Hotel.

"The last 18 months have been challenging. Dublin has been very busy. All of the hotels have been running at a very high occupancy so thank God we were able to reap the benefits of tourism and the growth factor of the Dublin hotels. While it has been challenging, we got over it and we were able to come out the other side.

"I was there that day. It was something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and thankfully everyone has come out of it and we got on with our lives and our business. We got massive support from our customers," Mr Glynn told Liveline.

Mr Glynn said that in the aftermath of the shooting, the business struggled to regain business for weddings and funerals.

"You can understand that if your daughter or son was getting married and you were considering the Regency, it would be hard to expect them to have their wedding in a hotel where there was a shooting. That end of the business did struggle but we caught up with Dublin being so busy."

He added that sometimes "bad publicity can end up as good publicity".

"We had the All-Ireland semi finals and the finals with Galway and Mayo and both teams were here at the Regency and their supporters. I'm very grateful to them for their support. We got on with it. There wasn't a day and a week where this wasn't hitting the headlines but we kept our head up, got on with it."

Mr Glynn praised the owners, the McGettigans, for investing "huge amounts" to re-brand the hotel.

"They're now converting it into a four-star hotel.

"Like a lot of Dublin hotels we were providing emergency accommodation. We will absolutely continue to do this. We have allocated a small number of rooms to Dublin County Council and we don't have a problem with that. They are very decent people."

In the weeks after the shooting a shrine was put up for the victim David Byrne.

"We're sorry this happened. It shouldn't have happened. We were completely and utterly taken by surprise. We never thought that this could happen in the Regency."

Mr Glynn said that the Byrne family didn't get in touch with the hotel to organise any tribute. previously revealed that the re-branding had been considered even before the gangland raid.

However, the source said the process was sped up following the incident.

Due to the sheer demand for hotel rooms in Dublin, the Regency saw little adverse effects on its sales in the 20 months since the incident, the source claimed.

The hotel received an insurance payout of €150,000 last year for the initial impact on business in the weeks following the attack.

Earlier this year, it came out of examinership.

It is understood this was in relation to debts, for which the hotel was used as collateral, and not due to how it had been performing.

A spokesperson confirmed a relaunch was under way and said refurbishment was also in process.

The spokesperson added that this was a positive step for the business as it seeks to move away from the negative publicity of the gangland shooting.

New signs for the Bonnington are expected to be replace the Regency ones later this week.

The hotel has also opened McGettigan's bar as one of the first phases of the refurbishment and will have its official relaunch of the bar on Thursday.

No details of the cost of the refurbishment have been released.

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