Christmas takings in Belfast could be shattered if an upcoming loyalist parade in the city turns violent, a retail chief has warned.
The Parades Commission has given the go-ahead for 10,000 loyalists to descend on the city centre on November 30, one of the busiest trading days of the year.
Last night, an appeal was made to shoppers and revellers to not be put off by the protests, and Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association chief executive Glyn Roberts urged organisers to ensure the march remains peaceful.
Roberts told the Belfast Telegraph: "The organisers need to ensure this parade is peaceful and it doesn’t descend into violence.”
"Secondly, they need to be clear by lunchtime so they limit the disruption to trade in the city centre, that’s vital. There should be many shoppers, many going to Belfast city centre to socialise… we don’t want them to think ‘we better not’, ‘it’s better not to risk it’,” he added.
The parading watchdog ruled the parade should have departed City Hall by noon and be clear of the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street by 12.30pm, reported the newspaper.