It will be hard to undo the damage wrought to the image of Northern Ireland by the protests over flags over the last few weeks. The image of a shiny, optimistic capital with all its cosmopolitan, money-making boasts - Titanic Belfast, the Merchant Hotel, Victoria Square - has been compromised.
Retail and food businesses need the traditional uplift of Christmas trade to make up for quieter months and are gnashing their teeth in despair that this lifeline has been blocked.
Now is the time for leadership - and that came from the business world last night.
The CBI, Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Directors declared "enough is enough" and urged politicians and community leaders to do what they can to stop the protests.
Let's hope they take heed.