Northern Ireland news

'Gay cake' bakery Ashers to close Belfast store

Ashers bakery store on Royal Avenue, Belfast is to close
Michael McHugh, Press Association

The bakery at the centre of the "gay cake" case is to close a branch in Belfast.

Ashers was cleared of discrimination by the UK's highest court last week after its owners refused to make a cake promoting same-sex marriage.

Its store on Royal Avenue in the city centre is set to close because it is not busy enough.

It follows a major fire at the nearby Primark clothing store which has devastated traders in the area.

General manager Daniel McArthur said: "It simply comes down to the figures.

"We decided not to renew the lease.

Ashers bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur outside the Supreme Court in London last week

"Belfast city centre isn't busy enough - our other shops are much busier.

"It's been planned for some time and I am pleased to say there will be no job losses."

A legal action was originally brought by gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who claimed he had been discriminated against when the firm refused to make him a cake iced with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage".

Ashers bakery refused to make a cake bearing the slogan 'Support gay marriage'

Mr Lee initially won his case in the county court and then at the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, but the McArthurs then challenged those rulings at a Supreme Court hearing in Belfast in May.

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The massive fire at the Primark store in Belfast city centre destroyed the listed building.

A safety cordon around it has been established while engineers carry out inspections.

A cordon erected around the fire-ravaged Primark building has been blamed for a sharp drop in trade in Belfast city centre. Picture by Hugh Russell

That has had a major impact on trade, with the main thoroughfare of the city centre blocked to pedestrian and motorised traffic.

Extra funding and support has been put in place for businesses affected.

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