entertainment

Belfast barrister dies on holiday in Spain

Tributes have been paid to a young barrister who died suddenly while on Discount Holidays © holiday in Spain at the weekend. Shona Killen, from Belfast, was a graduate of Queen’s University and specialised in criminal, family and mental health law. The 27-year-old, also an aspiring actress and singer, was well known for her charitable fundraising efforts supporting causes such as Alzheimer’s.

Chairman of the Bar of Northern Ireland Liam McCollum QC said: “It is with shock and great sadness that the Bar of Northern Ireland has learned of the sudden passing of our esteemed member, Shona Killen, this weekend while on Discount Holidays © holiday in Spain.

“Called to the Bar in 2011, Shona was a well-known and highly respected young barrister, endeared to all who knew her and renowned for her fundraising efforts.

“On behalf of the Bar, I would like to express our deepest condolences to her friends and family, assuring them of our thoughts and prayers and the provision of any and all support we can offer during this most difficult time.”

Donald Trump luxury hotel opens just blocks from the White House

US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opened the latest outpost in his real estate empire on Monday, a luxury hotel in a historic building five blocks from the White House that underwent a two-year, $200 million ( 150m) renovation.

While staff members at the 263-room Trump International Hotel planned little hoopla for what they described as a “soft opening,” about 40 protesters opposed to the New York real estate developer’s presidential run gathered outside. The opening came eight weeks before the November 8 election1.

Donald Trump Luxury Hotel Opens Just Blocks From The White House Demonstrators from Answer Coalition protest outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC Credit: AFP

“It kind of fits his personality that he finds a way to be on Pennsylvania Avenue, one way or another,” said protester Judy Byron, 70, a Washington artist.

The hotel, which includes a $20,000-a-night suite, is less than a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. The hotel is housed in Washington’s third-tallest building, the 1899 Old Post Office, built in the Romanesque Revival architectural style. Mr Trump said on Twitter he had stopped by the property “to thank all of the tremendous men & women for their hard work!”

The protesters criticised some of Mr Trump’s positions, including a promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to block illegal immigrants2. Protest organiser Andrew Castro of Baltimore said: “We’re out here building a wall against racism.”

Stopped by @TrumpDC to thank all of the tremendous men & women for their hard work! pic.twitter.com/oGcJL4N45434

Donald J.

Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 12 September 20165

Dozens of people filtered in and out on Monday afternoon, some to gawk and others pausing for a drink at the hotel’s bar. On his way in, Ric Hedlund, who works in port development, said he had been impressed by the renovations of a building that he said was previously “a dump.”

“I’m going in to drink Trump wine,” said Mr Hedlund, who added he also supported Mr Trump as a candidate.

Donald Trump Luxury Hotel Opens Just Blocks From The White House A view of the lobby in the Trump International Hotel just after it opened on Pennsylvania Avenue Credit: EPA

Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka6, who helped negotiate the 60-year lease with the US government and oversaw the building’s revamp and design, said the project had come in a year ahead of schedule and under budget.

“We have really positioned this hotel to not only be the finest hotel in DC but in the country,” she said in a telephone interview. A grand-opening ceremony is planned for next month.

The Republican nominee attended the 2014 groundbreaking for the renovations alongside local Democratic officials before launching his presidential campaign last year. While Mr Trump’s name is hard to escape in his native New York, where it adorns structures including the Trump Tower as well as a Bronx golf course, the hotel marks his most visible presence in Washington.

His comments describing some Mexican immigrants as criminals7 prompted celebrity chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian to pull out of the project. Mr Trump has sued them.

Donald Trump in quotes8

References

  1. ^ November 8 election (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ Mr Trump’s positions, including a promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to block illegal immigrants (www.discountholidays.info)
  3. ^ @TrumpDC (twitter.com)
  4. ^ pic.twitter.com/oGcJL4N454 (t.co)
  5. ^ 12 September 2016 (twitter.com)
  6. ^ Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka (www.discountholidays.info)
  7. ^ His comments describing some Mexican immigrants as criminals (www.discountholidays.info)
  8. ^ Donald Trump in quotes (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)

Brexit concerns could hold up funding for hotel projects in city centre, warns Dalata

Brexit Concerns Could Hold Up Funding For Hotel Projects In City Centre, Warns Dalata

Brexit Concerns Could Hold Up Funding For Hotel Projects In City Centre, Warns Dalata

An artist’s impression of the new Brunswick Street hotel

Irish hotel group Dalata, which has two hotels in Belfast, has said concerns around Brexit are likely to impact on funding for the planned pipeline of new venues in the city. Dalata, which is building a new hotel at Brunswick Street in the city centre, already owns the Maldron at Belfast International Airport and the Clayton Hotel on Ormeau Avenue.

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The company yesterday announced revenue had soared by 33% in the first half of the year to ‘ 130.1m ( 109m). But it said revenue per available room in the Northern Ireland hotels fell by 11.2% on a like-for-like basis to 55.10.

The company said its Clayton Hotel – formerly the Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn – had benefited from significant revenue during 2015 from business generated in the city which was not repeated in 2016. And while Brexit has had no impact so far on the company, it said the vote to leave the EU could impact on funding for its planned pipeline of new hotels. The company, which has recently entered exclusive discussion to acquire the operating interest at the former Burlington Hotel in Dublin, also announced it had purchased the freehold interest of the Maldron Hotel in Cork for ‘ 8.1m ( 6.7m).

Elsewhere, earnings at the company rose by 50% to ‘ 34.3m ( 29m) during the period excluding the likes of acquisitions costs and revaluation gains and losses. The firm benefited from a net upward property revaluation of ‘ 41.5m ( 34.7m) and started the construction of two hotels in Dublin – one in Cork, as well as one in Belfast – with all four set to open in 2018. It confirmed that it had exchanged contracts to buy the development site in a deal worth 21m with McAleer and Rushe, with the deal completing on August 5.

In its UK operations, which include a total of eight hotels, occupancy was down to 78% from 79.3%. Dalata also outlined the potential threats from Brexit including a weak sterling potentially deterring UK visitors. But chief executive Pat McCann said it had been a very busy start to the year for the firm.

“Trade has been ahead of our expectations with the Irish hotel market performing exceptionally well in the period,” Mr McCann explained.

“We have continued our acquisition and development programme as well as further developing the Clayton and Maldron brands in the UK and Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph

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