Northern Ireland

Belfast's Crown Bar closes over administrative error

Northern Ireland's best known pub - the Crown Bar in Belfast - has had to close its doors.

An administrative error allowed its licence to sell alcohol to lapse.

It is not clear when the landmark Victorian pub in the city centre will be in a position to re-open.

"This is not an ideal situation as it is one of Northern Ireland's most iconic and important pubs," said Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster.

Although the pub is owned by the National Trust, the problem is being blamed on an "unfortunate oversight" by the group that runs it, Mitchells and Butlers based in Birmingham.

Mitchell and Butlers spokesperson said: "Due to an administrative oversight the Crown will be closed temporarily until the new licence application hearing takes place on 17 January.

"During the closure we'll be taking the opportunity to carry out some staff training - at what it is our quietest time of year - and also some cleaning.

"We do apologise if this inconveniences our regulars but under the circumstances it is the right course of action for us to take."

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Media captionColin Neill from Pubs of Ulster says licensee did not renew the licence in November 20

The pub, on Great Victoria Street, is a tourist attraction in its own right and six years ago underwent major restoration.

It featured in the film, Odd Man Out, in 1947 and since then, has been seen on many TV programmes and served countless celebrities and the US President Bill Clinton on two of his visits to Belfast.

Its features include elaborate mosaic tiling, stained glass and decorative woodwork.

Mr Neill said: "We are confident this important asset will be back in operation once the matter is resolved."

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