Diljit Rana, Baron Rana
Diljit Singh Rana, Baron Rana, MBE (born 20 September 1938) is a British politician and member of the House of Lords. Having originally been a crossbencher, he took the Conservative whip in 2016. He was married to Shruti, Lady Rana.
Lord Rana left Punjab in 1963 for England, but now has been a resident of Belfast since 1966. He had to repair his property portfolio over 25 times during the Troubles in Northern Ireland because of bombings and arson attacks. "Being an Indian I should not have had any loyalty to Northern Ireland; I stayed there despite the problem," said Lord Rana. Today, he is a successful property developer, hotelier and president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is director of Andras House, is a leading figure in the Indian community in Northern Ireland. He is India's honorary consul in Belfast.
Lord Rana promotes business links between India and Northern Ireland and has been elected president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. He led a trade mission of 13 companies to India to explore business opportunities for Northern Ireland companies.
Awards and philanthropy
Rana was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1996 Birthday Honours, for his contribution to the economic regeneration of the city of Belfast through the development of hotels, restaurants, fashion shops and modern office accommodation. Rana has set up a charitable trust of Rs. 50 million for a school and a college named Taxila, in his native village Sanghol, near Chandigarh, India. The new college has collaborative links with the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. The university conferred an honorary doctorate on Rana who led a delegation of academics from the university to India to explore educational partnerships and help develop university links between India and Northern Ireland. Rana also received an Honorary Doctorate from Bengal Engineering and Science University in West Bengal in November 2008.
A dispute has continued for many years over the redevelopment plans of the Tillie & Henderson factory site in Derry, this site is owned by Dijit Rana. The site was previously a shirt factory of historic importance but was damaged in multiple arson attacks including major ones in 2001, and 2002, and was subsequently demolished without permission in 2003. A budget hotel originally envisioned for the site was still at the planning stage in 2009. Rana stated in April 2009 that his designers "we're trying to get things right this time", and communication was ongoing with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and he hoped that "there will be a general welcome for our plans in what is a prime location in the city".
Rana was forced to comply with an Urgent Works Notice in 2003 from the Department of the Environment. It obliged him to carry out immediate repairs to Cairndhu House, near Larne. Rana was advised that the building would be taken from him if he did not comply with the works notice.
Rana himself states that he has protected a lot of heritage buildings in Belfast, including:
- The Oxford Street Church
- Andras House (built in 1889)
- The Lincoln Building
- Renshaws Hotel.
- "No. 57334". The London Gazette. 22 June 2004. p. 7753.
- "House of Lords Journal 237 (Session 2003–04)". www.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- "Rana's relief". The Sunday Business Post. Retrieved 13 April 2009.[permanent dead link]
- "No. 54427". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1996. p. 22.
- "Call for action on Tillie's site". BBC News. 10 April 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- "'Arson' attack on factory". BBC News. 24 April 2001. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- "Former factory damaged in blaze". BBC News. 4 December 2002. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- "Tillie and Henderson". BBC News. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- "'I still want to build hotel on Tillie's site'- says Lord Rana". www.derryjournal.com. 13 April 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- "Lord Diljit Rana: Past heartbreak for hotel tycoon". belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2009.