Discordant note

In what seems like incredible clumsiness on someone’s part, the Culloden hotel (outside Belfast) got a request from Northern Ireland’s regional development agency which was interpreted as calling for the hotel’s minority staff to keep a low profile during meetings of a big foreign investment conference later this week —

An assembly member said she was concerned ethnic minority staff had been taken off duties at the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast.  This had been because of fears over their “broken English”, she said.

The hotel said it was aware of concerns raised by Invest NI and was working to find a resolution. Invest NI said it had “raised an issue regarding service standards with the management of the Culloden”.  Up to 100 delegates from about 80 companies are arriving in Belfast for the US-NI investment conference from Wednesday to Friday.

The conference is getting a fairly high level official US delegation including New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.   Maybe something got lost in communication — but wouldn’t you want to attract foreign investors with the image of a diverse and multilingual population?   The hotel’s statement makes reference to clients “improving their five star experience”, vague corporate-speak that could just as easily refer to generally poor service rather than specific staff.   If nothing else, it indicates the challenge when “modern” immigration trends are overlayed on what is already a complex situation.

4 thoughts on “Discordant note

  1. I’ve seen a couple of blog entries from US tourists in the Republic disappointed to have waiters from Poland and Lithuania (omitted to bookmark them, though, so no links right now). I think you’re right, but I don’t think the local reasoning was necessarily badly-motivated.

  2. Of course being multicultural is considered modern and good… but not if it means all the Black and Brown faces are the ones mopping the floors and cleaning the laundry. Maybe that’s what they were thinking? More likely some banal racism.

  3. Also, we are still stuck with a begging bowl approach to attracting investment, which is hugely counterproductive in my view, but that’s what Invest NI still peddle. Polish and Lithuanian waiters = labour shortage /= charity case in need of foreign alms, er… sorry, investment.

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