Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Belfast man told to leave Glasgow bar over 'sectarian' Northern Ireland flag

JD Wetherspoon said  staff had asked a customer to put his flag away
JD Wetherspoon said staff had asked a customer to put his flag away

A Belfast man said he was forced to leave a Scottish bar after he displayed the Northern Ireland flag.

Colin Rice was at a branch of JD Wetherspoon in Glasgow, where he was watching the Commonwealth Games, when the incident occurred.

He said staff at the bar told him the flag was sectarian.

JD Wetherspoon said it was aware of the incident, and that staff had asked him to put his flag away because they felt it might offend some people.

The incident occurred at the Camperdown Place branch of the chain, close to the city centre. Mr Rice became embroiled in an argument with staff after draping the flag over his table where he and friends were sitting.

The group then had their drinks taken from them and were asked to leave while other Commonwealth fans — who were also displaying flags of their country — looked on shocked.

Mr Rice said he had no intention of offending anyone.

“I'm here for the Commonwealth Games and I've taken in a lot of sports and everywhere I've gone I've taken the flag of my country with me,” he told The Herald newspaper in Glasgow.

“There were lots of people with different flags, Scottish, English, South African, and people wearing different tops to match too.

“I put my flag on the table and within about two minutes a member of staff came over and asked me to put it away.

“I asked why and she began linking it to the Orange Order.

“I explained that I had never had anything to do with the Orange Order and it was the flag of my country, but she still insisted that I remove it.”

According to Mr Rice, two more staff members then attended and asked him to remove it.

“I was outraged. I felt like I might as well have had a swastika on my flag,” he said.

In a statement, JD Wetherspoon said: “A member of staff asked him to put his flag away because it felt that it might offend some people in the pub. We totally understand this flag is the one representing Northern Ireland and we understand Mr Rice's frustration at being asked to put it away.”

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