Northern Ireland

English recruiter apologises over ‘Irish descent’ requirement in job ad for new boss of top Northern Ireland hotel resort

US owner of Slieve Donard Hotel said it did not approve wording of ad for its new general manager stating candidates must have experience working on the island of Ireland ‘or have Irish descent’

The famous Slieve Donard Hotel and Spa has just reopened under the Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts banner
The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down, which was acquired by AJ Capital Partners in 2021 for around £40 million.

An English company has apologised over a recruitment ad it produced in search of the new boss of a five star Northern Ireland hotel resort, which included “Irish descent” in the essential criteria section for prospective candidates.

Birmingham-based JWR said it was at fault over the listing for the £125,000 a year general manager vacancy at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down.

The hotel is owned by AJ Capital Partners, which operates the resort under its Marine & Lawn golf hotel portfolio.

The Nashville-based company is understood to have paid £40m for the Co Down hotel in 2021, which had been run by the Hastings family since 1972.

The Equality Commission said the stipulation that candidates must have experience “working on the isle of Ireland or have Irish descent” was potentially unlawful discrimination on racial grounds.

A spokesperson for the body, which oversees equality and discrimination law in the north, told The Irish News: “It is normally unlawful for an employer in Northern Ireland to set job selection criteria that would discriminate against jobseekers on racial grounds, which include the grounds of nationality and ethnic or national origins.

“From the information provided, in our opinion the job selection criterion referred to is potentially unlawful discrimination on racial grounds.

“We would advise this employer to re-consider their reasons for including this criterion.”

A spokesperson Marine & Lawn said: “The ad in reference was not approved by Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts.

“As a brand, we welcome inclusivity and do not discriminate on basis of race or geographical background.

“The ad was promptly removed, and Marine & Lawn has since moved on from the agency that posted it.”

A representative from the Birmingham-based agency JWR who spoke to The Irish News admitted responsibility for the wording of the listing and apologised.

The ad was removed from its website on Friday evening, however it was still accessible via Google at the time of going to print.

The Equality Commission said while it is unlawful for an employer to publish a job advertisement that contains unlawful racially discriminatory job criteria, third parties can also be liable.

“If the publisher of such an advertisement is a third-party, such as a newspaper or a jobs website, it is also unlawful for that person to publish the employer’s discriminatory advertisement too,” said a spokesperson.

“In addition, any jobseeker who feels disadvantaged by the criterion has the right to bring a complaint of race discrimination in an industrial tribunal.”