Belfast Telegraph

Who'll refuse entry if you're wearing a Northern Ireland shirt? We hit the streets to find out

By Cate McCurry

After a furore over a Northern Ireland football fan who was refused entry to a funfair because he was wearing the team's tracksuit, the Belfast Telegraph took to the city's streets to visit our landmark attractions and bars bearing the green and white jersey.

Two of our reporters explored tourist attractions, bars and a visitor centre to find out who really welcomed the Northern Ireland top and who gave us the brush-off.

We kicked off at the Ulster Museum in south Belfast, where the staff were very friendly as our Green and White Army took in its Troubles exhibition. It was a big welcome from the reception as they politely directed us to a guide map and had no reservations about the football strips.


As you'd predict at Laverys we scored, with refreshments provided without hesitation. The bar staff were very welcoming and had no issues with our attire - quite expected as it's the usual hub for Northern Ireland fans to frequent for pre and post-game pints.

It was a similar story at The Botanic Inn, where our courteous barman had no qualms with what we were wearing.

Across the road at The Eglantine we found the same welcome reception - although staff did have their suspicions after clocking our photographer outside.

Making our way to the city centre, we stopped off at the Crown Bar, but the team's heroics last week could not encourage a determined member of staff to give us the benefit of the doubt with its no football shirts policy.

We were told on a busy Tuesday afternoon that no sports tops were allowed on the premises - and, after a jovial debate over Northern Ireland's qualification for Euro 2016, the barman remained adamant about the policy and politely told us that those were the rules, which he did not make and he could not allow us to stay with the jerseys on.

We moved on to The Morning Star in Pottinger's Entry, where they asked that our male supporter remove his shirt. And no, he wasn't looking to swap.

There was, however, a slightly different reaction to our female representative.

The same friendly barman asked if she was planning on staying long and, when quizzed why, explained that the rules were no football tops. He remained polite and friendly but firm in the upholding of the venue's regulations.

At the Northern Whig, again our efforts sailed wide.

A cheerful bar tender said there was just a blanket rule on any football shirts. At the Belfast Visitor Centre, meanwhile, a guide explained that football tops would prove difficult in and around the town's drinking establishments, with many enforcing a ban.

She did recommend The Crown - which had already ruled us offside - before suggesting a tour of City Hall.

In the dying minutes of additional time at the dome, a helpful security guard advised it would be best if we returned for a replay as he was about to blow the final whistle on the day's proceedings.

He gave us an impromptu history lesson on what to expect from a tour and, asked if there was a dress code, he replied: "So long as you wear something, we don't care."

Belfast Telegraph


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