Trade hit by city centre parade

Published Monday, 11 August 2014
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Shop owners in Belfast city centre have said that trade plummeted by up to 70% during Sunday's anti-internment rally.

There was a heavy police presence in the city for the Anti-Internment League parade, which marked the anniversary of the introduction of detention without trial in Northern Ireland in 1971.

The republican parade, and loyalist protest, passed off with only minor disturbances. Last year, serious rioting erupted during the rally which left dozens of PSNI officers injured.

Although the weekend's parade passed in minutes, and the area then fully reopened for business, the usual crowds of Sunday afternoon shoppers avoided the city centre.

Some traders believe the potential for trouble and the huge security operation simply put people off coming into the city - they simply want the opportunity to do business without disruption.

Paul McMahon, Belfast City Centre Management, said: "It was a very poor day for trade. We have retailers telling us they were down as much as 70% on the same day last year and clearly that's not very good and that's something that needs to addressed.

"We need our political leaders to resolve that because it is something that we can't continue with."

The Mourne Seafood Bar, a popular city centre restaurant, estimate that Sunday's disruption cost the business thousands of pounds.

Owner Andy Rea said: "Pretty much our sales were down by half. I mean, when the parade is on or any sort of parade or protest is on and you have that police presence in town, you might as well wipe out that part of the day.

"Generally afterwards, we do get people coming back into town but you know yourself you walk into town you see loads of landrovers, lots of police or security presence it sort of puts you off coming out."

Glyn Roberts, of Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association ( NIIRTA), said that it "wasn't a particularly good day for Belfast."

"Also there were lots of tourists, there was a cruise ship in. So we've got to be conscious of what impact these parades and protests have on the city both national and internationally."

© UTV News
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10 Comments
in Ballymena wrote (73 days ago):
Michael, your forever bringing flags/ loyalists into things. Just accept that the shopoeners have a right to voice theor concerns... Much like they did suring the flag protest. You are a very bitter wee man who only sees one way. Its because of the mindset of people like you that we will never progress
yeoooo in northern ireland wrote (74 days ago):
Paddy it seems you maybe mistaken, the 12th of july brings in millions of pounds each year infact 2 years ago it brough in a record 50 million over that day. For the 12th of july being a public holiday its the most profiting public holiday in the whole of northern ireland. Paddy at the end of the day look up the facts before you start spoutting your lies of an amazing day for most anyway!
John in Co.armagh wrote (74 days ago):
(Paddy) The 12th of july every year brings in thousands of tourists and plenty of money spent, most shops open on the 12th too trade and get much needed revenue,so think before post facts that can't be backed up.
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (74 days ago):
Lost trade? I'm fairly certain it wasn't anywhere near the 15 million pounds mark that traders lost during the union flag riots. It seems in this instance certain traders are trying to make problems where there are none.
Paul in Belfast wrote (75 days ago):
Blame the Unionist so called leaders for this.
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