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Belfast City Hall to open to public at weekends

Belfast City Hall. Picture by Seamus Loughran

BELFAST City Hall is expected open its doors to the public at weekends in a bid to attract more tourists into the city centre.

The building is due to open on Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 4.30pm for a three-month trial.

Members of Belfast City Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee agreed the move yesterday. The decision is expected to be ratified at a full council meeting on July 1.

If the council ratifies the move, the building may open for the weekend of July 4 and 5 - the last two days of the Tall Ships Maritime Festival.

The move means visitors to City Hall will no longer have to use the entrance at the back gate during weekends.

Committee chairman, SDLP councillor Declan Boyle, said opening the city hall would provide more for tourists to do on Sundays.

"City Hall is one of our most prestigious city centre buildings and increasingly a major tourist attraction," he said.

“While we are promoting the city as a great weekend break destination, with great attractions, Sunday morning continues to provide us with a challenge as some shops and places of interest are closed.

“The success of St George's Market on Sunday mornings indicates an appetite for people to come to the city centre and we believe the City Hall opening its doors will prove to be hugely popular,” he said.

Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said the decision will help boost Belfast's economy.

"Belfast City Council has put much focus on and invested in our tourism offer. This move can allow tourists, visitors and citizens the opportunity to avail of the tours, history and hospitality of Belfast City Hall," he said.

"There's no doubt it can act as a further driver to entice greater footfall into our city centre and in turn support the local economy even further."

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