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All on board for Independents' Day

Launching Independents' Day are (from left) Sean Seehan (Bank of Ireland), Glyn Roberts (NIIRTA), Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard, Nigel Maxwell (NIIRTA) and Chris Conway (Translink). Photo: Kevin Cooper

THIS year's Independents’ Day campaign encouraging consumers to ‘shop local’, enjoy Northern Ireland's high streets and support indigenous traders will take place, fittingly this year, on US Independence Day..

And the initiative - launched at a reception at Stormont attended by 170 guests - has been boosted with confirmation that Translink will be providing shoppers with an offer of a £2 return ticket after 9.30am for all Ulsterbus town services and Metro in Belfast on July 4.

The Minister for Infrastructure Chris Hazzard said: “This is a worthy initiative by NIIRTA to underline the importance of independent businesses to our economy. We need to improve transport connections for people, goods and services and to increase use of public transport.

“Local bus and train services make it easy for people to access town and city centres. I'm delighted Translink has agreed to put together a package of discounts to support this initiative.

“There is strong independent evidence around the positive economic impact of public transport on the retail and hospitality sectors and in the appeal of an area for local shoppers and tourists

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir added: “We already have a vibrant and dynamic independent retail sector and I will do what I can to help support the innovative, can-do attitude that is so evident among our retailers.

“I encourage everyone to support their local businesses on Independents’ Day and celebrate the contribution they make to our communities, as well as the wider economy.”

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), said the organisation's 2016 initiative will be bigger and better than ever before.

“Shoppers have a real opportunity to do their bit and support their local shops on July 4 and throughout the summer. Independent retailers offer quality, choice and something different to the multiple retailers.

“Independents’ Day is all about celebrating the jobs, investment and services our local traders provide for us all and is also a beacon to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs, which is so vital to the future of our local economy.

"In particular, we need to see new retail entrepreneurs coming forward and opening up new small businesses and leading the charge in regenerating our town centres.”

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