A group of Apprentice Boys were turned away from the prestigious new five-star Bishop’s Gate Hotel on St Patrick’s Day because they were wearing club ties.
The Apprentice Boys called at the hotel following their annual St Patrick’s Day parade and church service at neighbouring St Columb’s Cathedral in the city centre.
Ironically the hotel takes its name from the nearby Bishop’s Gate where King James 11 arrived in April 1689 to demand entry to the besieged city during the Siege of Derry.
“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.
“I wonder will the staff at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel also refuse all those who turn up in St Patrick’s Day regalia?” he asked.
The luxury 31-bedroom Bishop’s Gate Hotel, which opened last month, is the latest project of the Inner City Buildings Preservation Trust, a subsidiary of the Inner City Trust which is dedicated to preserving the unique built heritage of the 17th century Walled City.
The multi-million pound hotel development involved the complete restoration and refurbishment of the iconic Northern Counties Building in Bishop Street Within and adjacent properties in London 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 the club closed in 2004, the building lay vacant and, by the time the Trust purchased it in 2012, the Grade B2 listed building had already fallen into a state of serious disrepair.
No-one from the Bishop’s Gate Hotel was available for comment.