An Irish builders' association has angered the country's struggling hotel industry by opting to hold its next annual conference in England.
The three-day conference of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), attended by more than 300 building bosses, plus their partners, is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to the venue chosen. But, next September, it is the Carden Park Hotel in Chester that will be benefiting from the builders' bonanza.
It is the first time in 30 years that the organisation has taken its conference outside the country. The booking was made before the crisis triggered by the 11 September terrorist attacks.
"The real problem," said a Federation spokesman, "is the shortage of big conference venues. Only Kerry, Galway and Dublin can cater for our type of numbers, while offering facilities like golf, and we've been to all three counties, many times. Members wanted a change - that's why we chose Chester.
"I think Irish hoteliers are being a bit selfish. They host conferences from the UK, from Europe and the USA. So why shouldn't things work the other way as well?"
The chairman of Cork/Kerry Tourism, Michael Courtney, accused the CIF of "setting a bad example", and added: "Builders benefit greatly from tourism and should be encouraging people to holiday at home next year. They can go abroad when things get better."
The mood was very different at Chester's 192-bedroom Carden Park Hotel, with its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. "We're delighted," said a spokeswoman.