Published Monday, 28 January 2013
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on the Galgorm Resort's Facebook page, has since attracted hundreds of comments - many questioning what was branded an "outdated" policy.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