News / Economy

Fake Shop Fronts Hide N. Ireland Economic Woes Before G8

Kevin Maguire walks his dog past a vacant shop, with graphics pasted to the outside to make it look like a working butcher's shop, in the village of Belcoo, Northern Ireland, June 3, 2013.
Kevin Maguire walks his dog past a vacant shop, with graphics pasted to the outside to make it look like a working butcher's shop, in the village of Belcoo, Northern Ireland, June 3, 2013.
Reuters
Local councils in Northern Ireland have painted fake shop fronts and covered derelict buildings with huge billboards to hide the economic hardship being felt in towns and villages near the golf resort where G8 leaders will meet this month.
 
Northern Ireland's government has spent two million pounds tackling dereliction over the past two years, the province's environment department said, demolishing some buildings and giving others a facelift in a bid to make areas more attractive.
 
Almost a quarter of so-called dereliction funds were freed up for local councilors in the county of Fermanagh in anticipation of Britain hosting the annual Group of Eight leaders summit there on June 17-18. More than 100 properties have been spruced up.
 
In the one-street town of Belcoo, the changes are merely cosmetic. At a former butcher's shop, stickers applied to the windows show a packed meat counter and give the impression that business is booming.
 
Across the street, another empty unit has been given a makeover to look like a thriving office supply shop. Locals are unimpressed.
 
“The shop fronts are cosmetic surgery for serious wounds. They are looking after the banks instead of saving good businesses,” said Kevin Maguire, 62, an unemployed man who has lived all his life in Belcoo.
 
“Where would you see a shop front in Northern Ireland like this anyway? It's more like something you'd find in Belgravia or Chelsea,” he said, referring to elite districts of London.
 
The fakes are not the first of their kind in Northern Ireland, a province recovering from three decades of sectarian violence that was largely ended by a peace deal 15 years ago.
 
Last year smart-looking shop fronts appeared in a series of derelict Belfast stores along the main route from the city center to the grand Stormont parliament building.
 
“Northern Ireland is in the international spotlight so it is entirely right that we should portray it in the best light possible,” Northern Ireland Environment Minister Alex Attwood said in a statement. “We should do everything we can to make these areas as attractive for residents, tourists and consumers. If we want tourists to visit and stay longer, then tackling major eyesores and dereliction will certainly help.”
 
Although partly shielded from the economic crisis in the Republic of Ireland thanks to an annual grant from London that accounts for about half of public sector spending, the North has been hit hard by the downturn. Even the luxury five-star hotel where G8 leaders will meet in two weeks' time has been in receivership since 2011.
 
In Belcoo, some wonder what will happen to the new shop fronts once Barack Obama and other world leaders have left.
 
“In six months' time how are these shops going to look?” asked Jim Leonard, a 50-year-old unemployed bricklayer. “They'll just be pieces of paper blowing around the ground.”

($1 = 0.6596 British pounds)

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.