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24 February 2013

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UUP councillor in Union flags unrest complains about St Patrick's festival costs

Independent Retail Trade Association says flag protests over the holiday period cost retailers almost £15million

AN ULSTER Unionist Party councillor who took part in loyalist flag protests that crippled many small businesses in Belfast over the Christmas period has complained that a four-day St Patrick's festival will cost the city up to £180,000.

South Belfast UUP Councillor Bob Stoker said the cost of the festival to the council is “excessive” in the current economic climate.

But that didn't stop Councillor Stoker taking part in Union flag protests that resulted in huge losses for city centre businesses and cost at least 300 jobs.

In December, Stoker even went as far as to defy his own party leader by joining 150 other protesters outside the Newtownards Road office of the Alliance Party just 24 hours after loyalists had attempted to murder a female PSNI officer at the same spot.

According to the Independent Retail Trade Association (NITRA), the flag protests over the holiday period cost retailers almost £15million in lost revenue as protesters blocked roads and forced shops, restaurants and businesses to close early.

This year's St Patrick's Day festival in Belfast will include a parade, concerts, film showings, photographic and history exhibitions, family events, walking tours, craft workshops and much more with the overwhelming majority of events being free of charge.

Belfast Mayor Gavin Robinson (DUP), whose party in previous years had attempted to block funding for the event, said Belfast is "going to be buzzing" and encouraged people from all backgrounds to enjoy the events in the city.

2014 – A YEAR OF CHANGE

2014 year of change

A chara,

Sinn Féin is in government in the North and is a major political party in the Dáil and in local government across this island.

We are the only all-Ireland political party and with each passing day our membership is increasing, our organisational capacity is improving, and we are presenting realistic alternative policies to meet the needs of 21st century Ireland.

On May 22nd and May 23rd, more than 350 men and women will be standing for Sinn Féin in the European and local government elections, north and south.

For those who reject austerity and want a different future, a better future; who want hope for themselves and for their families; who want jobs and prosperity; and who want a real republic on this island – Sinn Féin is that future.

Make 2014 a year of change.

If you want a new future – a New Republic – help Sinn Féin in our fundraising efforts by contributing to our election campaign.

Thank you for whatever you can afford.

Lánaigí libh agus beirigí bua!

Is mise,

Gerry Adams TD

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