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Council rejects longer Sunday trading proposals

Protests against the move were held outside City Hall. Credit: UTV

Plans to extend Sunday trading hours have been defeated following a vote at Belfast City Council.

The council voted 12-3 against the move, with Sinn Féin, the DUP and SDLP all opposing it.

Protests were held by shop workers outside Belfast City Hall on Friday morning ahead of the meeting of the Strategic Policy & Resources Committee.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Retail NI welcomes the comprehensive vote by Belfast City councillors to drop plans to relax Sunday trading across the city.

"This would have given a further unfair competitive advantage to large supermarkets and disadvantaged local small shops, whose Sunday morning trade is vital for their survival."

Gordon McElroy, president of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said he was disappointed by the result.

"The chamber represents the entire business community of Belfast - from small independent retailers, coffee shops, bars and restaurants to large multi-nationals - and, with their absolute best interests at heart, we believe that extended Sunday trading would positively benefit trade in the city, which would have a cumulative effect across the whole of Northern Ireland.

"The chamber will continue to lobby for Belfast to be designated a holiday resort, which we believe will not only help attract additional visitors to the city, but provide life and vitality to our city for those who currently visit but are frustrated by the lack of business and attractions which are open on Sundays before 1pm."

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