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St George's Market sellers cry foul over Belfast City Airport plans for restaurant

By Rachel Martin

Published 12/11/2016

Gerry Lappin at his fruit and vegetable stall
Gerry Lappin at his fruit and vegetable stall
Shoppers at St George’s Market, Belfast
Fishmonger David with Alasdair McDonnell
Butcher John McCarthy
The market entrance

St George's Market could become the inspiration for a new restaurant at Belfast City Airport - but the market's produce will not necessarily feature on the menu, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Belfast City Council suggested that a market-inspired restaurant could be placed in the airport's departures lounge - should councillors approve the idea. But traders have vented their anger about the proposal with some describing the situation as "false advertising" and "fraudulent".

Jane Harnett, owner of Harnett's Oils a rapeseed oil firm in Banbridge, said she was "particularly disappointed" food stall holders had not been consulted.

According to a council report, the proposal would allow the St George's name to be used as well as branding using pictures from the market, and would also allow story boards telling the history.

Jane Harnett has traded at the market for nine years and already supplies some restaurants. "There's absolutely no reason why most, if not all, of the ingredients used couldn't come from St George's - there's such an array of goods on offer. There's fish, lamb, beef, venison, goat meat, fruit, veg, eggs, oils, seaweed and even peppers and chili products - there are some fantastic local producers here.

"People might have a lovely meal at the restaurant and decide they want to go down to the market to pick up some of the things they've tried but they won't be able to.

"It's a really good idea to link up with the airport, but I feel any restaurant using St George's brand needs to promote what St George's has inside."

The report said the council has already asked the company catering at the airport to consider using products from the market traders where possible. But there would be no guarantee anything sold at the market restaurant would have to come from St George's.

John McCarthy has been running his business The Market Butcher at St George's for more than 30 years and said he is trying to expand his business into supplying restaurants and is baffled why the traders have been overlooked.

"That's actually what we're trying to do - expand into food service," he said. "A lot of Belfast restaurants will come to the market to buy meat when they run out, but what we want to do is deliver straight to them."

Fishmonger Anthony Flynn added: "It gets to use the reputation of St George's but doesn't give anything back - that doesn't sound fair to me."

South Belfast SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, who was shopping at St George's, also backed traders. "I would hope that if the branding is going to be used from the market then the product should be from the market as much as possible," he said.

Belfast City Council declined to comment.

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