The Northern Whig

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Coordinates: 54°36′04″N 5°55′41″W / 54.601°N 5.928°W / 54.601; -5.928 The Northern Whig is a bar housed in a historical building in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

It is situated in the Cathedral Quarter, just to the north of the city centre. At various times during its history it has been a gentleman's club, a newspaper and is currently a bar owned by The Horatio Group.

The Northern Whig Club[edit]

The original Northern Whig Club was formed in Belfast in 1791 by the Society of the United Irishmen. They met in various locations around the Bridge Street area in Belfast. In 1795 various members including Theobald Wolfe Tone and Henry Joy McCracken met at Cavehill to the north of Belfast, a meeting that was a pivotal step towards the 1798 Rebellion.

In 1819 construction began on the current Northern Whig building in Bridge Street, taking its name from the original club. The foundation stone was laid on St. Patrick’s Day, and the building was completed in 1821 as a hotel and gentlemen's club. In 1798 McCracken had been tried and hanged at the Belfast Assembly Rooms, across the road from the building. The Assembly Rooms building was used as a branch of the Northern Bank during the 20th century, but is currently vacant.

The Northern Whig newspaper and printers[edit]

In 1823 a newspaper, also called the Northern Whig was founded in Belfast, and was owned for a period by John Arnott, founder of the Arnott's department Stores. In 1922 the company moved to the Bridge Street building, where they remained until 1963 when the newspaper ceased production. Along with much of nearby High Street, the building was damaged during the Belfast Blitz in 1941. After this period the company then became a commercial printing firm and moved to north Belfast to their present site on the Limestone Road. The company currently specializes in lithographic and digital print for the public and private sector, offering a one-stop-shop for copy writing, design, print and print finishing. Highly successful in recent years, the company was listed in "Deloitte's Fast 50". The company still exists as of 2008 and has recently invested in new technology to assist with production demands.

The bar[edit]

From 1963 until 1997 the building housed offices. In 1997 it was bought by the Mooney family's Botanic Inns, and after extensive renovation turned into a bar. The bar featured a number of Soviet era statues. Originally housed in the Prague Communist Party headquarters, they were commissioned to celebrate the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In April 2016 The Northern Whig Cathedral Quarter Belfast under went an extensive refurbishment.

In May 2017 The Northern Whig Cathedral Quarter Belfast was awarded Pub Of The Year (Northern Ireland) by The National Pub & Bar Awards.

Involvement in setting case law[edit]

In November 2012 the Northern Whig achieved notoriety when it refused entry to an ex-policeman for wearing a remembrance poppy[1]. Although the owners apologised at the time, the customer took the matter to court, supported by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI)[2] . The case was significant for the decision supporting the view of the ECNI that "The poppy, although not directly linked to a specific religious belief or political opinion, would historically have been associated to a greater extent with the Protestant or unionist community in Northern Ireland"[3].


  1. ^ "Northern Whig bar apologises after poppy-wearer refused entry". BBC News. 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Refusal of man wearing poppy". Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Poppy refusal discrimination". The Irish News. 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 

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