Deirdre Hargey has backed the high-profile #YourBelfast campaign following the devastating Primark fire in the city centre, which has hugely impacted surrounding traders.
The emotive campaign, which has also had the backing of well-known Northern Ireland faces from Pamela Ballantine, Eamonn Holmes and Carl Frampton, encourages people to travel into the city centre and show their support following the Primark fire.
The huge fire infamously destroyed the beloved Primark store in Belfast city centre in August, and took three-and-a-half days for hard-working emergency services to extinguish.
The charred sandstone facade is all that is left of the historic Bank Buildings at Castle Junction, with a cordon around the surrounding area.
Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: ''It has been a difficult few weeks for Belfast following the fire at Bank Buildings, with our city centre and business community facing an unprecedented challenge. Traders have been hit hard and they are worried about their future.
''Council and its city partners are committed to doing everything in their power to support the recovery operation and restore the city centre to the very vibrant place we know it to be.
''What’s important now is that we get behind those traders who have been impacted by the fire – both directly and indirectly.
''It’s fantastic to see so much support for the #YourBelfast campaign. Supporting our retailers during this difficult time is vital as we demonstrate that Belfast remains open for business.''
Hargey continued: ''The first phase of the campaign gave a platform to businesses impacted most by the fire, those who remain within the cordon. It was fantastic, too, to have the support of some well-known faces who freely gave of their time to back the campaign.
''The campaign has tapped into the collective pride we have in our city. This is my Belfast; it’s our Belfast; it’s your Belfast.
''As the campaign develops in the coming weeks and we look ahead to Christmas, we’ll be looking at how we encourage footfall into the heart of the city centre.
''We want people to tell us what they love about their city, to support local businesses, and to reflect their own unique identity, making #YourBelfast their own.
''We’re asking retailers to get on board with special offers and incentives for shoppers; and Council and its partners are looking at innovative ways to animate pockets of the city while the normal flow of business is disrupted.
''Belfast is a resilient city and we are determined to keep on going and not lose any momentum. I would urge everyone to show their support for the city by rediscovering all that Belfast has to offer.''
Find out more at: https://visitbelfast.com/your-belfast.
6 Top things to do in Belfast
There’s plenty to see and do in Belfast city centre, so come in and take a dander!
Despite the cordon around the Primark Bank Buildings, it’s business as usual in Belfast city centre and there are plenty of gems to uncover; many with special offers.
Follow the yellow dots on the pavement to explore Chapel Lane, Castle Street and Fountain Street as well as Royal Avenue and Donegall Place, or travel further out for a great selection of special events.
Bustling Castle Street is one of the oldest parts of Belfast and today it has many independent stores selling a range of merchandise worth checking out. There are a host of eateries here to enjoy including newly opened Maggie May’s offering an extensive all day breakfast menu (their famous Ulster fry is available full size, bumper size or veggie!). Pizza Boutique offers handmade pizzas with an Irish twist and packed with flavour. Enjoy a slice and salad at lunch time for only £5, enjoy tear and share platters with friends or let the kids build their own pizza.
Oxfam Vintage Charity Shop
Or maybe vintage fashion is your thing. If so you will want to stop by this treasure trove on Castle Street with its collection of items dating from the 1960s to 1990s. Among the men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, you’ll find everything from casual wear and winter woollies, to sportswear, shoes, scarves, hats and fancy dress for Halloween. They also have a huge stock of homeware, books, CDs, DVDs and vinyl records.
Every Thursday night is open mic night at Voodoo on Fountain Lane, with complimentary drink for all performers, so bring your guitar and enjoy a night of local music!
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous and fun, book into Timescape and race against the clock to solve a mystery in under an hour. These live escape games are perfect for families and large groups.
Dippy on Tour at Belfast Ulster Museum
Dippy has arrived in Belfast and has made the Ulster Museum his home until 6th January 2019. The full 292-bone skeleton, in its displayed pose, is an impressive 21.3 metres long, 4.3 metres wide and 4.25 metres high. During Dippy’s Exhibition at The Ulster Museum there will be lots of exciting events and interactive activities from storytelling, Dino workshops, Dino after dark plus more.
Halloween Monster Manor at W5
Monster Manor is back! And it's even spookier than last year! With singing pumpkins, dancing skeletons, floating ghosts, witches and monsters have been joined by some new phantom friends this year.
Weekend openings only from September 29 and daily visits from October 27 - November 4.
City car-parking and transport information
Getting into Belfast is easier than you think, with diversions in place for public transport and plenty of car parking available.
From on-street parking to sheltered multi-stories, there are lots of parking options available in Belfast. Bring the car right into the city centre and park for just £1 per hour at Castlecourt Shopping Centre*, or Park and Ride with Translink from a number of convenient locations just outside the city. Go to visitbelfast.com/carparks to see our guide to parking in the city.
Diversions are in place for some Metro services into the city because of the safety cordon. Temporary stops are in place for the affected services, and a new free Belfast city centre shuttle service has been introduced. The new service will operates throughout the day, Monday to Sunday, connecting St Georges Market, City Hall and Royal Avenue with a new stop in North Street.
Free city shuttle
Translink has extended its free Marketlink shuttle service to make it easier to access city centre shops and entertainment outlets while the safety cordon remains in place. The new service operates throughout the day, every 10 minutes from 9am to 6pm Monday – Saturday and every 20 minutes from midday to 6pm on Sundays, connecting St. George’s Market, Donegall Square West, Victoria Square and Royal Avenue (at Central Library) with a new stop on North Street.
Check translink.co.uk for all the latest travel information.
Get the train into either of Belfast’s main train stations – Great Victoria Street or Lanyon Place Station – with regular services from all over Northern Ireland. Check out nirailways.co.uk to find out more.
*offer ends September 30.