Businesses say 'enough' to protestors

Published Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Comments
Toggle font size
Print

Business leaders in Northern Ireland have come together to urge an end to the flag protests which they say are damaging Christmas trade.

Businesses say 'enough' to protestors
Protestors block roads into city centre. (© Pacemaker)

The loyalist demonstrations have now continued into a third week following Belfast City Council's decision restrict the flying of the Union flag at City Hall.

Local businesses have been left to count the cost, with takings at pubs and clubs down a fifth in what should be the busiest weeks of the year, in the run-up to Christmas.

And with retailers already hard pressed because of the downturn, there's a warning that major high street shops may look elsewhere when it comes to future investment.

In a joint statement, CBI Northern Ireland, Institute of Directors and the NI Chamber of Commerce told the protesters "enough is enough".

They said: "The damage to local businesses created by on-going street disturbances and violence associated with the 'flag protests' must now be brought to a rapid end.

Our hard pressed retail and hospitality sectors have already been suffering from the economic downturn and cannot afford to bear any more hardship.

NI business leaders

"The violence and disruptive actions of those involved in these street protests are being beamed around the world and will have a detrimental impact on tourism and investment. This is now putting jobs at risk and threatens the very livelihood of the business owners and staff in these communities. Visitors and investors can and will invest elsewhere if they cannot be assured of a peaceful environment."

The body representing the pubs and clubs industry said it's not for them to comment on the flags issue, but they want it to be sorted out urgently.

"We're seeing a downturn of 20% - that's a fifth of the busiest time of our year," explained Colin Neill from Pubs of Ulster.

"In these number of weeks we do a third of our yearly turnover so it's crucial for our survival in January and February when there's nobody about.

"I don't know how to solve this but somebody needs to very quickly."

The hotel federation have echoed that call - meanwhile as evening trade takes a knock one restaurateur said the disorder has not done the NI brand any favours.

Michael Deane said: "I think it's had a devastating blow to the city centre.

"No matter what we think about flags I don't think this is the time or place to make these calls and I think Belfast is very upset about what's happening."

The continental market at City Hall was also affected by the protests and has been extended an extra weekend to make up for lost time.

On the streets of Belfast on Tuesday, UTV asked shoppers whether they have been discouraged from coming into the city during the trouble.

"It doesn't put me off," one woman said. "But the traffic - we had to queue for a while."

Another woman told us: "I got caught on Friday night and had to walk 20 minutes in the rain so it wasn't happy times."

A couple said: "No - why should it put us off? There's been protests throughout the years."

And a man said: "Sure we've been through the 70s, we carry on."

As the unrest continues, local businesses encouraged politicians to work to stop the protests and called on shoppers to support local trade.

The joint statement continued: "The business community in Northern Ireland is now calling on every politician and community leader to bear any influence they have to stop these street protests and start focusing on rebuilding a strong economy for Northern Ireland."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
17 Comments
Danny in Ulster wrote (707 days ago):
Sean D in Derry - what about the roads blocked off by the Police because of bomb alerts and weapons found in Derry? I think that is a bigger issue than a few people protesting with flags?
Sean D in Derry wrote (707 days ago):
Come to Derry folks no protests no roads blocked in the city centre, (only roads blocked are some loyalist back streets) no disruption, nice city centre market and shops open late
A d in Belfast wrote (707 days ago):
Just to clarify for those saying not to blame the protestors , and that I should not rely on Christmas trade to keep ticking over...... I have a local shop stocking Bread , Milk , everyday items , I'm not some multi national company with millions in the bank. If I buy in a stock of milk , it has a shelf life of 2/3 days , but the protest forced me to close therefore when I re-open nobody wants the milk from the previous day or so, because of the use by date , therefore my stock is useless, i cannot keep funding a business for locals from my own pocket,it relies on profit making to buy stock , pay wages, pay bills, rent , etc etc... simple economics !!!
Tomc in Belfast wrote (708 days ago):
Less than 0.8% of Belfast city's population attended the City Hall protest - the rest of us don't need a flag to know we're British.
BOBBY in belfast wrote (708 days ago):
PUT THE FLAG BACK WHERE IT BELONGS . NO NEED TO TREAT THE UNIONIST POPULATION LIKE THIS . THEY VOTED FOR THE AGREEMENT WHICH WAS MEANT TO PROTECT THEIR STATUS IN THE UK AND TRAILING DOWN THE NATIONAL FLAG IS A DISGRACE . WOULD LOVE TOO SEE DUBLIN TRAILING THE TRI COLOUR OFF THEIR GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS AND SEE HOW THEIR CITIZENS WOULD LIKE IT
POST A COMMENT:
Name:  
Email address*:    
Location:  
Validation:
House Rules:  
Your Comment:  
[All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Your name, location and comment will be displayed on this page if your post passes moderation.]
MOST POPULAR GALLERIES
Flash flooding
Thu 13 November 2014
I
Wed 12 November 2014
The X Factor Live: Week 4
Sat 01 November 2014