The Northern Whig

Coordinates: 54°36′04″N 5°55′41″W / 54.601°N 5.928°W / 54.601; -5.928
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54°36′04″N 5°55′41″W / 54.601°N 5.928°W / 54.601; -5.928

The bar in 2013

The Northern Whig is a bar housed in a historical building in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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

The Northern Whig Club[edit]

In 1795 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. The company then became a commercial printing firm and moved to north Belfast to their present site on the Limestone Road.

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.

Poppy discrimination case[edit]

In November 2012, the Northern Whig achieved notoriety when it refused entry to a former policeman who was 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. BBC. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2015. The owners of a Belfast pub have apologised after a former police officer wearing a poppy was refused entry to the premises. Ted Cooke has said he will not be returning to the Northern Whig bar following Saturday's incident.
  2. ^ "Refusal of man wearing poppy". Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2017. In our guidance to employers, the Commission makes it clear that the wearing of poppies, in a respectful manner and within the appropriate period, should not be regarded as something which would cause offence. It would be unacceptable if any person was made to feel uncomfortable because they were, or were not, wearing a poppy. The wearing of emblems or displays of symbols can become an issue for employers, who have a duty to maintain a good and harmonious working environment for their staff; and for service providers such as publicans who need to avoid an atmosphere which could be intimidating or cause disorder. The Equality Commission has provided guidance to help people faced with making such decisions decide which symbols have the potential to disrupt a good and harmonious environment and which are not likely to do so.
  3. ^ "Poppy refusal discrimination". The Irish News. Belfast. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2017. Eileen Lavery, head of advice and compliance at the Equality Commission, said it had assisted Mr Cooke in the challenge because it believed barring him from the premises in these circumstances was unlawful discrimination on grounds of religious belief or political opinion.

External links[edit]