It has been claimed a group of Apprentice Boys were turned away from a new five-star hotel in Londonderry yesterday.
The Apprentice Boys called at Bishop’s Gate Hotel following their annual St Patrick’s Day parade and church service at neighbouring St Columb’s Cathedral in the city centre.
Maurice Devenney, president of the ABOD Mitchelburn Parent Club, told the Londonderry Sentinel that members had been turned away because they were wearing club ties.
“To gain entry they would have had to remove their club ties,” said Mr Devenney.
“I thought we had all of this done and dusted over the years given the great cross-community work that has been carried out in the city, so that people were not being denied entry into bars and clubs.
“The wearing of an ABOD club tie is no different to someone wearing a rugby club tie, a sporting club tie or a club tie for any other recognised organisation.
“All the ABOD members at church today and on parade were very well-dressed in suits and none of them were intoxicated.
“So it is disappointing when you look at the great work the ABOD have done over the last decade or more in this city, that their members have been turned away after having engaged in working to secure a shared future and shared city that we can all live in and share.
“It is really hard to understand in these times of economic hardship that it is not respected that trade is trade no matter what culture it comes from.
“I hope in the long term that this issue can be resolved for future events in the city, especially from the preserve of the unionist culture and tradition.”
Mr Devenney added: “From my perspective as president of the Mitchelburn Parent Club, it was a very, very dignified church parade and it was well organised and I commend the members of the No Surrender parent club who organised it,” he said.
The multi-million pound Bishop’s Gate Hotel development involved the complete restoration and refurbishment of the iconic Northern Counties Building in Bishop Street.
Once a well-known city centre landmark, the Northern Counties was formerly a private members’ club and base for the city’s business and civic leaders.
When contacted by the News Letter yesterday evening, a spokesman for the hotel declined to comment on the matter.