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Belfast restaurateur Michael Deane accuses Stormont of ignoring hospitality

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Michael Deane has accused the Stormont Executive of ignoring hospitality. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Michael Deane has accused the Stormont Executive of ignoring hospitality. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Michael Deane has accused the Stormont Executive of ignoring hospitality. (Liam McBurney/PA)

One of Northern Ireland's leading restaurateurs has accused the Stormont Executive of ignoring hospitality over plans to lift lockdown restrictions.

Speaking on the BBC Stephen Nolan programme, Michael Deane said his business was losing over £30,000 a month during the pandemic.

A number of lockdown relaxations were announced on Tuesday, including the return of primary school pupils, but hospitality leaders said they were bitterly disappointed as no dates were provided for reopening.

Non-essential retailers will be allowed to operate a click-and-collect basis from next month, but industry leaders have complained it does not go far enough.

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Mr Deane said he expects his family business to survive the pandemic, but that the ongoing extra costs will leave him severely in the red.

"We've been walking the plank here blindfolded. I've got a family business but I happen to have seven different operations in this city and it's all on a knife edge now," he said.

He said the situation had become "hopeless" for many other businesses and called for better communication on future opening.

"I've stood in Belfast over flags, over Troubles, over bombs and I've never come through the like of this. I've been standing in Belfast for 25 years, working every day, working hard with my family to try and make Belfast a better city.

"A phonecall, acknowledgment or a nod or some kind of timeframe. Even a prisoner gets a timeframe of when they're going to be released.

"I find this absolutely ridiculous."

Employing around 100 people, Mr Deane said he had continued to pay wages with the business losing between £30-40,000 a month to stay open.

"That's not coming from the bank, that's coming myself and my wife's pocket. We feel as if we're being ignored, we feel as if we're under house arrest as if we've done something very, very wrong."

Belfast Telegraph


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