14/01/2013

Belfast Traders Call Emergency Meeting

Belfast traders are to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the damage to the economy caused by the union flag protests.

The meeting is to take place at the Europa Hotel.

The news follows an estimation by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that £15m has been lost in the local economy over Christmas because shoppers decided to avoid the city centre.

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce president Joe Jordan said: "There is no doubt that the past two months have been incredibly difficult for traders in Belfast. We want to hear the first-hand experience of businesses, along with their views and opinions on the current crisis."

The trouble for Belfast’s traders began when loyalists and unionists decided to hold street protests over Belfast City Council’s decision to limit the number of days the union flag can be flown above City Hall.

As a result, businesses in Belfast city centre say they have struggled to keep afloat in an already troubled economic climate.

Restaurants and shops are reporting declines in footfall, leading to fears the aftermath of the protests will be one of job losses and business closures.

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy first Minister Martin McGuinness are due to meet the British and Irish governments later this week to discuss the protests.

(IT)

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