Belfast City Council has heeded concerns about family life, with councillors rejecting the latest attempt to liberalise Sunday trading.
One year on from turning down a previous plan, councillors on the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee voted not to relax Sunday shopping hours.
The Christian Institute has consistently opposed further liberalisation of Sunday trading, across the UK.
Responding to today’s vote, the Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer Callum Webster said: “The council has made the right decision.
“Retail staff are already under enough pressure to work on Sundays and extending opening hours would only increase this.
“We hope the council will now leave this issue alone permanently and let Belfast get on with keeping Sunday special”.
The proposal would have seen Belfast predesignated as a ‘holiday resort’ under Article 6 of Northern Ireland’s Shops Order 1997.
Last month the Council deferred its decision, amid an ongoing consultation process.
But this morning, the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee voted 16 to four against the change.
Ahead of the vote, the Usdaw union cautioned that families who currently rely on taking Sunday off would be negatively affected.
…a special day
The union’s Mike Aylward said it had shown “longer Sunday trading hours are not wanted by the vast majority of shopworkers and would be a threat to the profitability, productivity and viability of many retail businesses”.
Noting that the current system allows Sunday to remain “a special day” with shopworkers afforded time with family, he said, “we are very pleased that city councillors have listened to those concerns”.
In 2016, Westminster saw another victory for opponents of extended Sunday trading, with MPs voting 317 to 286 to defeat the UK Government’s controversial plans.