Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Belfast hotel customer says prayers during Sunday lunch left bad taste - what do you think?

By Claire Williamson

A woman has told of how she felt "uncomfortable" when she was approached about religion in a Northern Ireland restaurant - and when a religious act appeared to take place nearby.

Northern Ireland woman Kelly along with her daughter was meeting friends at the Loughshore Hotel.

When they arrived she said she could see two men looking over at the table - they then came over and started giving out Christian tracts.

Kelly told the BBC Stephen Nolan Show: "They stood over us for quite a while. We felt uncomfortable but the manager came over to the table about five minutes later and asked was everything ok.

"I didn't want to be rude so I shook my head and said it wasn't and the manager asked the men to leave the table."

They got on with their meal and didn't think anything more of it until they looked across the room and saw what appeared to be a religious act or ceremony at the table.

She said: "There was a man who had his hands on a lady's head, she had her hands up and the man produced a bottle of holy water and the lady repeated what the man was saying.

"We had come out for Sunday lunch and this was right at the very front of this room. It was more than just a prayer and it looked like a ceremony. It wasn't the place for it.

"It was a public area and we had come out for food and our kids and our kids felt uncomfortable.

"The other staff had made comments on it as well how uncomfortable they felt I didn't think it was the time or the place. "

She told the Belfast Telegraph that this is more of an issue of the way the situation was "handled".

When contacted, the hotel said they were sorry the guests in question felt uncomfortable.

It said in a statement: “We are sorry that the guest in question felt uncomfortable with the actions of another member of the general public.  With tact and sensitivity our service team managed the situation as it arose.  Upon subsequent communication with the guest, we offered by way of a gesture of goodwill, a refund of the food bill of £99.75 for 3 adults and 2 teenagers. 

"When we declined the request to additionally refund the drinks bill of roughly £50 they communicated their dissatisfaction, which we acknowledged.  At this point the guest terminated the telephone conversation.

"The hotel followed up on this communication with an email from the Hotel General Manager.

"We are sorry that the guests did not enjoy their experience at our very popular Sunday Carvery of Easter Sunday past and remain willing to extend the gesture of goodwill to refund the total food bill.”

However Kelly has alleged that the conversation was terminated by the hotel.

She said that they accepted the offer of the return of the food bill at the time but are yet to receive it.

Speaking on the Stephen Nolan show Pastor Brian Maddens said people were too quick to be offended.

He said: "My problem is we are being offended at everything in this day and age.

"I'm not surprised people are offended when they see an expression of Jesus in a public place."

He disagreed that it should have taken place in private.

He said: "Jesus didn't do his ministry in a private place he did it in a public place."

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