Campaign to ‘reclaim’ city wins support

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A campaign to encourage people back into Belfast after weeks of Union flag protests has secured £1.5m in support, the city council said.

The Backin’ Belfast initiative reached the latest milestone after councillors pledged £400,000 to help its efforts to woo patrons into the city to shop and socialise.

The Stormont Executive has already committed £600,000 and Belfast businesses have themselves donated offers and give-aways worth £500,000 to the cause.

Parts of Belfast have witnessed disorder and rioting since the council voted in December to limit the number of days the flag flies over City Hall, as some loyalist protests have turned ugly.

Many more pickets have involved road blocks, which have caused major traffic disruption.

Traders claim the cumulative effect has dealt a hammer blow to footfall in the city. The campaign represents the collective response of the pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels to the crisis. Developed by the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, it comes on the back of various social media rallying calls for people to reclaim the city.