Restaurant owner quits 'backward' Belfast for Ibiza
Leading restaurateur behind Made in Belfast and Le Coop quits 'laughing stock' city
The restaurateur behind Made in Belfast has said she is quitting the city for Ibiza to escape the red tape and social attitudes of Northern Ireland.
Englishwoman Emma Bricknell said her would-be home in the sun was no utopia but would be an improvement on Northern Ireland - where she said social attitudes were going backwards.
She also protested about the difficulties of doing business and the risk of Northern Ireland growing more isolated from the rest of the world.
Ms Bricknell has two Made in Belfast restaurants - one in Wellington Street and the other in Talbot Street in the Cathedral Quarter. Her latest venture, chicken fast-food joint Le Coop, is also in the hip district.
In reference to the temporary suspension of the United Airlines flight to Newark, and a lack of other European routes, she said: "The US flight has stopped - you can't fly to Sweden, Berlin or Italy. How does anyone get anywhere? There's no rail link from the airport. We are a laughing stock to the rest of the UK and the Republic."
Ms Bricknell, originally from Kent, has already spoken of her opposition to the conscience clause, a bid by DUP MLA Paul Givan to give businesses the option of refusing to provide services to individuals if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. And business bureaucracy had also put her off. "It's just beaten the life out of me. You can't move a licence, you can't get a bar licence. Politicians are just useless and you just need to dissolve Stormont and put Dublin or London in charge."
She added: "I don't want to be here any more due to so many factors - I just don't think it's progressing, especially with the conscience clause." She added that the majority of people were not represented by the "scumbag minority" in Stormont.
Emma Bricknell settled in Belfast after picking out city names from a hat. In 2005 she opened her first Made in Belfast in Wellington Street, gaining a reputation for a quirky take on familiar dishes and eclectic decor. But while she said her venues were doing well, she is tired of living here. She quoted a friend who said you can hope for "change and progress" where you're living, or else just go and live somewhere else.