Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Pub chain sorry for Northern Whig poppy snub

One of Northern Ireland's biggest pub chains has apologised after a man was asked to remove a poppy in order to get into one of its venues.

Graeme Milligan from east Belfast said he was horrified when a doorman at the Northern Whig in Belfast asked him to remove the paper flower from his lapel on Saturday night.

Mr Milligan, a worker in Bombardier Aerospace, said: “The doorman said ‘excuse me, you couldn’t take that off?’

“I said ‘why?’, and he said ‘you’re not allowed to wear anything to do with Rangers or Celtic, or political symbols’.”

He said he and his partner Linda were sober and sensibly dressed and enjoying their monthly night out on the town.

“I said to the doorman it wasn't a political symbol but a charity symbol for people who died in the war, but there was no telling him,” the father-of-two said.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph the bar's manager Liam Hall vehemently denied anyone was asked to remove a poppy.

“There's no way, shape or form that would happen. Our doormen are from a security company and some of them would even be ex-servicemen who have been in Afghanistan.

“We know the poppy is not a Catholic or Protestant thing, but something to remember people who have died in conflicts.”

But as Mr Milligan stood by his version of events, Mr Hall said the pub would look at its CCTV footage. A spokesman for the Botanic Inns Group, which owns 15 bars and hotels in Northern Ireland, later said a review of the CCTV did back up Mr Milligan’s claims.

He said the group “has always welcomed customers who wear poppies”.

“Unfortunately, a doorman who was employed by a contractor, and not a member of Botanic Inns Staff, asked a Northern Whig |customer to remove his poppy |before entering the bar.

“Botanic Inns regrets this incident and would like to offer its apology to the person involved.

“Botanic Inns has again spoken to its contractor, and indeed all staff, regarding its door policy.”

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