Page last updated at 18:55 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 19:55 UK

Hotel staff gaffe claim dismissed

A series of breakfast meetings is taking place at the Culloden
A series of breakfast meetings is taking place at the Culloden

Invest NI has denied asking a leading hotel to keep foreign staff away from business delegates attending a major US investment conference.

Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann said she was concerned ethnic minority staff had been taken off duties at the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast.

Invest NI said it had raised concerns about service standards, but there were no specific requests about hotel staff.

The hotel said it was working to find a resolution.

Up to 100 delegates from about 80 companies are arriving in Belfast for the US-NI investment conference from Wednesday to Friday.

Invest NI is staging a series of breakfast meetings at the five-star hotel in Cultra.

The Hastings Hotel Group, which owns the Culloden complex, said in a statement: "At no time was any concern raised regarding the composition of serving staff, their nationality or the inclusion of ethnic minority employees."

An Invest NI spokesman said they had been working closely with management at the Culloden "to ensure that the highest standards of service are available to the delegates".

Patrick Yu of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities said most foreign nationals working at the Culloden had been there for a long time and their language skills were not a problem.

"In order to get a job serving in a hotel you have to prove you can speak English so how can it be an issue?" he said.

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