Belfast Telegraph

Royal visit to Northern Ireland: Seafood banished during the Queen's visit to St George's Market

By Rebecca Black

Seafood was banished during the Queen's visit to St George's Market yesterday.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that fish stallholders were not invited for "hygienic reasons".

This was explained as being because the fish stalls needed to be close to the doors.

The security operation to allow the visit of the Queen and Prince Philip was located at the spot where the fish stalls usually take place when the market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

It is understood that another spot could not be found for the fish traders, and that this was explained to them.

The stalls that the Queen visited were mainly craft-based but included some food stalls.

The fresh fish stalls are one of the most popular features of the market with traders travelling to sell their wares, particularly from south Down.

A regular customer at St George's Market contacted the Belfast Telegraph yesterday to express her anger that the fish traders had been excluded.

"Personally, I think it is a real shame, I go to St George's Market every weekend for fish and vegetables," she said.

"Fish has been sold at the market since it started and is one of the things the market is known for. Also when the Queen visited Cork, she took a real interest in the fresh fish on offer at the market."

However, while the Queen did not get to view fish stalls at the market, she dined on Irish salmon for her lunch at Belfast City Hall.

The full menu included trio of Irish salmon, gravadiax, lightly smoked and blackened with mango and pomegranate salsa followed by grilled fillet of Ulster beef with crushed Comber potatoes and Clandeboye Estate yoghurt panacotta with locally grown poached rhubarb, mini-meringues and Glastry Farm vanilla bean ice cream.

A spokeswoman for the Queen said Her Majesty met a selection of stallholders who were able to be there on the day, adding that the Palace did not make any determination on who could or could not attend.

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: "All market stallholders were invited to attend this special one-off market to accommodate the royal visit. However, Tuesday is a busy day for markets elsewhere, including Lisburn, and given the short lead in time some traders chose to maintain their commitments at the other markets.

"The stalls therefore were mainly craft-focused."

One trader said some traders decided not to take part because of the heightened security.

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