Northern Ireland news

How Pride for some businesses stops at the border

Dunnes Stores in central Dublin ahead of the city's Pride events, and Dunnes Stores in central Belfast ahead of Belfast Pride
Brendan Hughes

AHEAD of the Belfast Pride parade on Saturday, various city centre businesses have embraced the LGBT festivities with shop window displays awash in rainbows of colour.

But compared to store fronts in Dublin for its events, it may appear that for some corporates Pride stops at the border.

While big-name stores had prominent rainbow-themed shop windows for Dublin Pride in June, some of their Belfast counterparts have no such displays.

Dunnes Stores in central Dublin had a window display with a mannequin holding a rainbow of balloons, but the clothing retailer's central Belfast store has stuck with the usual sales signs.

At Debenhams on Henry Street ahead of Dublin Pride, mannequins held placards with messages saying "love is love" and "be loud and proud" in front of a huge rainbow flag. No such displays were seen yesterday in the windows of Debenhams on Belfast's Royal Avenue.

Debenhams on Henry Street ahead of Dublin Pride, and Debenhams on Royal Avenue ahead of Belfast Pride

Coffee chain Caffe Nero had "Together with Pride" posters in their windows in Dublin, but no such signs were spotted in Belfast's outlets.

However, some chain stores had prominent Pride displays in both cities, such as Penneys and its northern counterpart Primark.

Read More: Antrim GAA to take part in Belfast Pride parade

Marks and Spencer in the captial had a colourful shop window, while in Belfast its store at Donegall Place had a display inside at the front entrance.

While First Trust – part of the AIB group – beside Belfast City Hall had no Pride display yesterday like its Dublin counterpart in June, the bank said it will be decorated like it was in 2018 and staff will walk in the Belfast Pride parade for their second year.

Bank of Ireland on O'Connell Street before Dublin Pride in June, and Bank of Ireland near city hall ahead of Belfast Pride

Bank of Ireland's main Belfast city centre branch did not have a Pride window display like in Dublin, although the bank is taking part in Belfast Pride according to online posts.

Thousands are set to take part in Belfast's Pride parade, which is billed as both a celebration and as a protest calling for equality on issues including same-sex marriage.

Gavin Boyd, of LGBT charity the Rainbow Project, said they are "really pleased" with the number of businesses choosing to "publicly display their support for LGBT equality in the run-up to Belfast Pride".

"While it is disappointing that some businesses were more public in their support for Dublin Pride than they have been for Belfast, we know that many of these moves within businesses are employee-led and it may be that some businesses in Northern Ireland are still on a journey that they may have already completed in Dublin," he said.

A sign in the window of a Caffe Nero in central Dublin ahead of Pride in June, and a Caffe Nero near city hall ahead of Belfast Pride

SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite, who attended the Dublin Pride parade, said: "As anyone who is working or volunteering in the LGBT+ sector will tell you, visibility is crucially important when it comes to demonstrating that people are loved, welcomed and included in our society.

"That visibility shouldn't dissipate or end when you travel from one city on the island to another.

Debenhams on Henry Street ahead of Dublin Pride, and Debenhams on Royal Avenue ahead of Belfast Pride

"I would urge many of the businesses who take an active role in supporting Dublin Pride to match that with support for Belfast Pride in the future."

Caffe Nero said it is a "diverse business" and does not run "central programmes for every cultural activity" due to his range of locations.

"This can lead to variety and local customisation to how support appears, but there is no difference in Caffe Nero's belief or support for the same event happening in Belfast or Dublin, just the local store's choice of how to display it," a spokesman said.

Other businesses were contacted for comment but they did not respond yesterday.

Dunnes Stores in central Dublin ahead of the city's Pride events, and Dunnes Stores in central Belfast ahead of Belfast Pride

An M&S shop front in central Dublin ahead of the city's Pride events, and an internal display in M&S on Donegall Place ahead of Belfast Pride

A postbox in central Dublin ahead of the city's Pride events, and a postbox on Royal Avenue ahead of Belfast Pride

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