Meetings Regarding Flag Protests

22 January 2013


Today (22nd January 2013), representatives of the local hospitality and retail sectors met with six Northern Ireland Ministers – First Minister Peter Robinson, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, Justice Minister David Ford, Culture Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy – along with SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell, to discuss the impact of the flag protests on the Belfast and Northern Ireland economy. 


Following the meeting Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster; Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association and Joe Jordan, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said:


“Today’s meetings were an opportunity for representatives of the local hospitality and retail sectors to discuss the immediate crisis currently facing local businesses in Belfast.


“We reiterated our concerns around the critical situation in Belfast, its arterial routes and further afield, which now needs immediate assistance in order to survive this particularly challenging time.  As Belfast is the centre of the local economy, it’s vital that our efforts are focused here first; if it suffers, all of Northern Ireland will suffer.  We hope that by protecting the future of trade in Belfast, we are limiting the damage to local businesses right across Northern Ireland, ensuring the sustainability of the local economy as a whole.


“We have been greatly encouraged by the level of support we received today and we welcome all discussions focused on providing immediate support for the Belfast business community.  Each Minister has stepped up to the plate and vowed to look at ways to help traders and retailers get through this difficult time.  We have made significant progress and a number of options are currently being explored, including a commitment to provide an immediate marketing campaign and mechanisms to help cash flow for businesses worst affected.  Overall, it is clear that there is a shared commitment to urgently helping the local business community, and this is something that we will continue to drive forward.


“Pubs of Ulster, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association and the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce will continue to work closely with all of our political representatives.  We are currently seeking further meetings across the political parties to update them on the situation, including with the Deputy First Minister.  We will continue to lobby for immediate support, ensuring that the collective voice of the local business community is heard loud and clear.”