Published Sunday, 09 December 2012
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It is not yet known how much the demonstration cost traders in the city, on what was expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
A crowd of around 2,000 marched around Belfast City Hall to demonstrate their objection to a vote taken earlier in the week, which saw the number of days when the Union flag will be flown from the building reduced to 17.
While the gates at the Christmas Market were closed for a number of hours, some shops pulled down the shutters voluntarily during the mostly peaceful protest.
Joe Jordan from the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said he believed the vote could have been postponed.
"We can't understand why the decision was taken to hold the debate about the Union flag in the run up to Christmas," he explained.
"It surely could have waited until February or March next year."
But Sinn Féin councillor Mairtin O'Muilleoir said council decisions cannot be delayed for the benefit of retailers.
"We can't run the calendar of democracy always in sync with the retail trade during the year.
"We think this is an issue that should have been sorted out before now. It happened this month. I don't think it's the greatest timing for anyone but we need to get on with it," he added.