Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

So, who helped to take back city?

Neither protests nor snow can stop revellers

Crowded House: The Potted Hen

Hardy souls made their way into the city centre through protests and harsh winter weather to support local businesses.

Weeks of flag protests and riots had hit the number of revellers hard, leaving it like a ghost town.

But now a call had been made by this newspaper’s We’re Backing Belfast campaign for the people to enjoy their Friday night.

As the snow fell across the province on Friday night conditions may have been freezing— but the ‘ghost town’ was buzzing.

As the winter coats were hanging up drying off, Champagne bottles were being popped in a packed Potted Hen in the Cathedral Quarter for a birthday party.

Enjoying a glass was Sue McGrath from east Belfast, who said they were determined to make it. She said: “My taxi dropped me four streets down because we got blocked in but we are here.”

Her friend Karen Latimer (45), a Belfast teacher, said it was important to have a night out: “We were determined to come. No protest nor snow will stop us!”

Niall Hopkins (46), area business manager for a pharmaceutical company, travelled by train to attend a leaving do.

“We live in Ballymena, but the buzz is in Belfast,” he said.

Anne Marie McStravick from Belfast (40) said despite a long wait for a taxi it was worth it.

“I think it was quite easy on a day like this with the snow as well, to say ‘let’s just go home’, but we struggled on through it. It was worth it, the food was great.”

In Hill Street Brasserie another birthday was being celebrated. Sean Orr (39) and Barry Carvil (38), both from Belfast, battled on a bus to get to the restaurant.

“We actually were going to ring up and cancel but we then thought no, we will come out and support local businesses — and it was Barry’s birthday,” Mr Orr said.

Also there were Miles Ross (41) and Kristine Tiltine (33). He said: “Instead of having to battle our way through the snow and traffic we decided to come and get a bite to eat.” Zen restaurant was also popular. Vicki McMahon from Belfast said: “It is damp and miserable and after a hard week of work, why not go out?”

Stephen Magorian, MD of Botanic Inns, said it was great to see the public come out.

“What we are saying to the people bluntly, and I’m saying this openly, it is no good sitting in your house saying this is terrible, somebody should do something. That is not good enough, because you are the somebody—everyone of us is the somebody.

“That is what needs to happen over the next few weeks, we need to take the city back.”

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