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‘People fear next bomb won’t be a warning’ - Belfast business manager

Security in the Cathedral Quarter after a bomb exploded on Friday night.

Security in the Cathedral Quarter after a bomb exploded on Friday night.

Businesses in the area of Friday’s Belfast bomb blast are striving to settle back to normality following the attack.

Although many lost custom as a result of the alert at the newly-built St Anne’s Square complex in the Cathedral Quarter, traders are continuing to welcome customers in its aftermath.

Joanna Suwalska, 37 and living in the city centre, runs Chopin, a cafe-bistro that opened in January.

She estimates she lost as much as £3,000 due to the incident, and although they had a string of cancellations for Saturday, she added: “The evening was really good. Not as good as expected, but really good.”

She added: “I’m originally from Poland. For me it’s a shock. People seem to be, I don’t know – prepared for that kind of experience.

“So far, so good. People are still booking tables. Hopefully things will be back to normal.”

Louise McGee, 23, from Lisburn, was in the square on her way to meet her mother yesterday, and seemed relaxed about the weekend’s drama.

Asked if it would put her or her friends off coming into town, she said: “Maybe friends from uni who don’t live here, they’d maybe be a bit apprehensive about coming over. But the rest of my friends in Belfast are exactly the same. It wouldn’t stop them coming out.”

Barman Andrew Patton, 25, from Dunmurry, was working his last day at House of Zen restaurant yesterday.

When some customers heard about the alert on Friday, he said, they were fairly unfazed.

For example, when he told one stag party that there may be a bomb in the square, “they didn’t care. They were like: ‘do you want another pint?’”

He added: “We probably did take quite a big hit on Friday,” noting that about 150 had been booked to come in later that evening. However, he said, they had received no cancellations in the wake of the attack.

But business manager Grainne Griffith, 37, said that while that was the case, they had not had any additional bookings either.

“I think a lot of people did take it in their stride,” she said, but added: “Many customers I’ve spoken to have said that they are worried about going back in town because, you know, what they’ve been told, a lot of them, is this was a warning. Next time, it won’t be a warning. People gossip.”

 

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