The Journal says.... Trading and parading

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For the last number of years in Derry we have been repeatedly told of the benefit that culture can have in terms of our economy.

There is huge excitement in the city ahead of the City of Culture celebrations next year, not least among local traders who will be hoping for a much-needed upturn in business.

What we do not hear about quite so often is how culture, and in particular the way in which it is expressed, can have a negative impact on the economy.

One such example of this was plain to be seen in the city centre in Saturday during the annual Apprentice Boys’ Relief of Derry demonstrations. Thousands of marchers, band members and their supporters travelled to the city for the event but the economic benefit to local businesses is questionable.

The majority of business premises in the Diamond and upper part of Ferryquay Street were closed for the day because of the parade and many people avoided the city centre.

This had been the pattern for many years but surely it does not have to be. Business leaders have often spoken of the need to find a balance between trading and parading but it appears that little has been done to achieve this.

The long-running and often bitter dispute over the issue of the right to parade in Derry was resolved through dialogue and now the march regularly passes off peacefully. It is time the traders and their representatives follow this example and start working now to find a way to avoid the image of city centre shops with their shutters down next year.