12 April 2006

Belfast security barriers come down


11/04/2006 - 18:26:29

Belfast tonight took another major step towards normality with the removal of the final security barriers within the city centre.

Barriers, erected during the Troubles to thwart paramilitary attacks, were dismantled from outside the bus station in Glengall Street and near Jury’s Hotel on the Grosvenor Road.

Other barriers, including one at the junction of the city’s main shopping thoroughfare Royal Avenue and North Street, have also been dismantled over the past week.

The move was welcomed by Northern Ireland Office Social Development Minister David Hanson and by Joanne Jennings of Belfast City Centre management as a further sign of Belfast’s development as a modern, vibrant European city.

Mr Hanson said the disappearance of the barriers would help stimulate more confidence in the city.

“It will contribute positively to the economic and social vitality of the city and will help to promote the city as a leading European regional capital and the primary retail, leisure and business destination in Northern Ireland,” the minister added.

The barriers were removed in the week when an initiative was launched to extend the opening hours of Belfast city centre shops and cafes to 7pm.

At the launch of that initiative yesterday, the city’s Lord Mayor Wallace Browne said extended opening hours would make Belfast more attractive to visitors and had proven a huge success in other UK cities like Bristol and Manchester.

City Centre Management spokeswoman Joanne Jennings said tonight’s development and the extension of opening hours were significant.

“The removal of the barriers is momentous,” she said.

“It is a visible sign of the changes that have been taking place in Belfast and of how life is being transformed here.

“Coming in the week of extended opening hours, its significance should not be lost.

“Businesses should be commended for taking the opportunity to breathe new life into a city centre which tended to die after 5.30pm. The removal of the barriers is a first step in the city centre’s revival and a signal of increased confidence in Belfast.”

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