Concerns raised about international conference

Protesters in Belfast yesterday.Picture by Hugh Russell.
Protesters in Belfast yesterday.Picture by Hugh Russell.

Campaigners have held a protest as business leaders in Belfast revealed plans to attend a major property investment event in France next year.

Members of the recently formed Belfast: Right to the City Alliance gathered outside the Belfast MAC yesterday as details of the planned visit to the conference in Cannes next March were made public.

The annual MIPIM conference brings together an international network of property developers and investors.

Local organisations from the private and public sector that have so far signed up to attend include Belfast City Council, construction firm McAleer and Rushe and consultants Deloitte.

The Belfast: Right to the City Alliance is a coalition of voluntary organisations, housing campaigners and human rights groups.

The group has raised concerns about a decision to approve plans for the commercial development of sites in south and north Belfast which campaigners had hoped would be used for social housing.

It says that the annual MIPIM event has drawn criticism in the past.

Fionntán Hargey of the campaign said: “Communities are sick and tired of the needs of developers and for-profit enterprises being placed above the needs of people struggling with in-work poverty, homelessness and unconstrained property and commercial speculation."

Suzanne Wylie, chief executive, Belfast City Council, said: “Any major city in Europe which is serious about promoting itself will be at MIPIM.

“That’s why we took a decision to take a delegation to this internationally renowned event back in 2015 and attended in both 2016 and 2017.”