Row of unlicensed outlets make mockery of council rules
There may be no legal sex shops in Belfast, but on one city centre street, there is a row of unlicensed premises selling sex-related wares.
Northern Ireland has just one legal sex shop, which is located in an industrial estate in County Antrim.
History was made when CBC Distribution was granted a license by Newtownabbey Council in 2007.
Belfast City Council has never issued a licence to a sex shop, however three shops currently operate along Gresham Street, along with a fourth shop that specialises in erotic DVDs.
Shoppers must ring a bell to gain access to two of them, and all carry over-18s signs.
The products they sell range from DVDs to books and accessories. The manager of one of the shops told the Belfast Telegraph that the owner of the business had applied for licences from the council but had been turned down.
"We have pretty much been told that we won't get a licence," he said.
"The council comes in the odd time, but we are still able to operate. The police don't seem to have a problem with us at all."
A worker in another of the shops said the situation was "ridiculous".
"You go into any other city in Europe and there are sex shops," he added. "It's only in Belfast that we are so behind the times."