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 Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.