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Belfast will only rebound if every sector is fully open

Michael Stewart

It is hard to conceive of a more challenging set of circumstances under which to assume the presidency of Belfast Chamber.

Belfast, its people and its business community have endured a lot down through the years. I started my first job in this city in the middle of the Troubles. I worked in Marks and Spencer and one of my duties was to check customers bags as they came into the store.

Thankfully those dark days have gone and with it, our city has been utterly transformed. Who would ever have thought that the Belfast I grew up in with bombs and bullets raging everywhere and a ring of steel around its commercial core would ever become the modern and vibrant city it has become. It hasn't, of course, been plain sailing economically.