Diner 'asked to leave' over tattoo

Published Monday, 28 January 2013
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A top Ballymena restaurant has defended its dress code after asking a group of people to leave because one of their party had a visible tattoo.

Diner 'asked to leave' over tattoo
The group were asked to leave the restaurant as soon as they finished their meal (© Getty)

While management at Gillies Bar and Grill, part of the luxury Galgorm Resort, say they "waivered" the policy to allow the group to dine, they were asked to leave after paying their bill of over £200.

The statement, which was posted on the Galgorm Resort's Facebook page, has since attracted hundreds of comments - many questioning what was branded an "outdated" policy.

The management did not apologise for what happened, only for the "activity" on its Facebook page and made public its response to a member of the group.

"A week prior to the group's arrival, a member of the party had spoken to a member of our management team to query our door policy," the post read.

"He was advised that unfortunately, we do not permit visible tattoos into Gillies Bar and Grill.

"The party did however come to Gillies Bar & Grill, and at the door, a manager was consulted and we waivered the policy to allow the group to dine. They were however, made aware that once they had finished dining, the door policy would come back into effect."

It was not our intention to make the group feel uncomfortable. They were however, made fully aware of the door policy, prior to their arrival and during their meal.


Some Facebook users expressed surprise as they themselves had visible tattoos, but had dined in the restaurant without issue.

The man whose facial tattoo was at the centre of the controversy is a Ballymena tattoo artist, who insists his ink - a freehand design, rather than any kind of symbol - is not offensive to anyone.

Gillies' strict dress code policy is available on the resort's website, where it states that the rules must be adhered to by "all visitors".

It outlines that the dress code is "smart casual" and that "appropriate" footwear should be worn. It also bars sports regalia, baseball caps and hooded tops.

In barring visible tattoos, it adds: "At management discretion."

While tattoos are a popular part of many cultures around the world, they have held a certain amount of stigma closer to home in the past.

But with a host of celebrities - including the likes of heavily inked footballer David Beckham, actress Angelina Jolie and singer Robbie Williams - all embracing tattoos, attitudes have long since thawed.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
inked paul in belfast wrote (278 days ago):
Maybe if people stayed away from the place they may change their minds. Nothing changes company policy like a good hard kick in the profits.
Doug in Belfast wrote (724 days ago):
2 things. 1. If the guy was told beforehand, or a representative of the group was told beforehand, that there was a no visible tatoos policy then he is essentially complaining that the Galgorm did him a favour by letting them in to dine. 2. No visible tattoos is a fairly common policy in a lot of bars over here. Why? Because there are so many people over here with Union Jack / Rangers / Tricolour / Celtic / IRA / UVF / Forces tattoos. These can ( rightly )cause offence to one set of patrons, but seem innoccuous to another. If I tell a customer he can't come in because he has a Tricolour tattoo then I'm just another bigotted unionist discriminating against the Irish. If I tell a guy with a Union Jack tattoo the same then I'm in " The Ra " and a terrorist and he'll have me shot. The solution - No visible tattoos. It's fairly simple and easy to enforce, discriminates against neither side of our community and gives staff and custoemrs a clear policy. It's sad, but that's why it's still so common over here. FYI - I worked as a Doorman for years and have 6 tats myself. I wouldn't go somewhere with that policy, because, you know, they have that policy.
Jonathan in Ballymena wrote (724 days ago):
I think you need to understand how the word visable is used. This incident isn't reference a small tattoo on someones arm. I know the guy in question and his tattoo is fully covering his face and head. I have several tattoos and I would be in Gillies often. The point here isn't a visable tattoo that would offend anyone but one that literally stands out. To be fair to Galgorm, would you have someone sitting in your premises with ink drawings all over your face? I wouldn't, it's intimidating and lets be honest, how many people do you know have a full face tattoo? I think it's disgusting looking and I think Galgorm were right to stick to their guns.
Vee in Belfast wrote (724 days ago):
Body Art Rules in Belfast I don't have ANYTHING against people with tattoos. As a matter of fact I have one on my chest to show the place the rays of radiation had to go after Chemo several years ago. My comment was that it caused enough hardship to my sister to have a nature-given facial birthmark about which people were exceedingly nasty, and I cannot understand why people would put marks like that on their faces deliberately. But there is no accounting for taste. Also if the party were told the policy why did they bother spending their time and money there in the first place? It is a stupid fuss over nothing, and life is too short for that sort of carry-on.
coleen in Ballymena wrote (724 days ago):
Personally I have nothing agains anyone who has a tattoo and if someone is stupid enough to cove rtheir face in ink, then they should also be honest enough to accept the consequences. This group were told BEFORE THEY BOOKED about the policy. They weer told BEFORE they ordered that they could have their meal but would have to leave after. So they had a clear choice about if they wanted to eat in Galgorm or not... But if they had decided to go elsewhere then this guy woudl not have been able to claim he was hard done by, and woudl not have got all this radio/TV etc exposure for his Tattoo Business... Its just a cynical stunt
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