Sinn Féin MLA and Finance spokesperson Daithí McKay has stated that evidence is growing that the graduated response by political unionism and the Orange Order is damaging the economy over the 12th weekend.
Speaking today Mr McKay said:
“There is growing evidence that the uncertainty caused by the graduated response is damaging the local economy.
“In Belfast the number of shops opening for the 12th of July has decreased significantly and restaurants have reported a decreased number of bookings.
“The majority of retailers still close on the morning of the 12th.
“The Orange Order has claimed in the past that ‘Orangefest’ is welcoming to all. However, the current approach by political unionism and the Loyal Orders maintains a situation that the vast majority of all sections of our community will not go into Belfast city centre on the 12th of July.
“The leaders of the main unionist parties must realise that the cost of £10m to police the Twadell protest, the £20m spent on the first four months of the flag protest along side the associated £50m of damage to the economy because of these protests will take its toll.
“We now see further damage due to a lack of confidence in the retail and hospitality sector as the ‘graduated response’ remains the main focus for political unionism.
“When we hear the DUP and UUP saying how budgets are ever tighter we should calculate the damage that the refusal to engage on the Haasss related issues is having.”