No more Miss Behavin’ in Belfast…

NORTHERN Ireland has made great strides forward in recent times, but some things never seem to change! Today, the Law Lords backed Belfast City Council’s decision to ban sex shops in a city centre area, while a Co Armagh shopowner has been fined for opening his store too early on a Sunday.

  • DC

    Sex, but not in the City.

  • SuperSoupy

    This and most of the other ‘sex’ shops in Belfast are based in Gresham street. Gresham street is home to a school uniform shop and numerous pet shops, all of which were there first. If there is any appropriate place for these ‘businesses’ it certainly isn’t Gresham street.

  • My initial reaction to the headlines was along the lines of Gonzo’s “some things never seem to change!” but when you actually take on board the report as a whole, there is certainly at least a suggestion that the council are refusing the license because they want to develop that area rather than a refusal to allow ‘smut’ in their city.

    That said, this is the same council that closed down Belfast’s first (and to date, only) exotic dancing club IIRC.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    beano

    Developers certainly want to bulldoze the area, although the pet shops and school uniform shop are probably as against that as the sex shops.

    Is anywhere appropriate for the latter? It’s not like they sell anything you can’t get in a newsagent or Ann Summers on Royal Avenue.

    So I’ve been told…

  • Same old same old in Norn Iron – too much religion and too much bad sex.

  • SuperSoupy

    Gonzo,

    A council official interviewed on tv said the decision was not because they were against licensing sex shops in principle. He suggested Duncrue as an area where an application may be treated more favourably.

    The main difference between them and Ann Summers or a newsagents is they are illegally selling R18 rated products.

  • Pete Baker

    Gonzo

    Well, as I noted previously.. there are other venues..

  • SuperSoupy

    Pete,

    It is illegal to import dvds into Ireland or Britain that do not have a IFCO or BBFC rating.

    Just as it is illegal for these shops to be selling R18 products without an appropriate license.

    Now they are fully aware that the decision to deny a license is valid I trust the stock they seem to have been selling illegally will be removed from the shelves and they cease describing themselves as ‘sex’ shops.

  • DC

    “Co Armagh shopowner has been fined for opening his store too early on a Sunday.”

    An early riser.

  • interested

    Surely just as sometimes people jump up to protest at some things too quickly, surely there is the opposite sometimes here too. When something is blocked then there is always the automatic assumption that its on the moral/religious/sectarian grounds that too many lazy people assume it has been.

    The Council official was fairly clear that the Council hasn’t ruled out sex shops in the City (mind you it would be very foolish for the Council to say that anyway) but that this venue wasn’t suitable.

    As for the person fined for opening too early. Surely there is legislation there which isn’t Northern Ireland specific and therefore there cant be the claim that it was put in place to appease the Not on a Sunday lobby in Northern Ireland. As the saying goes:,

    ‘rules is rules and you gotta have rules…. where would we be without rules???…… that’s right……. FRANCE!’
    (c)Al Murray.

  • Observer

    And why do they want to scrap the House of Lords?

  • Rory

    Sex shops are useless anyway. Have you ever tried buying sex in one of them? In London they call the rozzers on you. Maybe it’s an anti-Irish thing.

    All they sell is condoms and surgical appliances and you can get these far cheaper at Boots. But, funnily enough, they won’t sell you a pair of boots.

  • idiot swatter

    “Co Armagh shopowner has been fined for opening his store too early on a Sunday.”

    That should be changed to “Private sector employer tries to earn a living, gets pistol wipped by crazy religious based law”

    If this blog was anywhere else in the world, the sex shop issue wouldn’t even register, and the poor sod getting fined for providing a service would be the hot topic.

  • In going to play the ‘man’ instead of the ball here but I feel it is necessary to do this in order to make my point, so apologies in advance…

    It seems apparent from this thread that many of our bloggers are essentially inward, Conservative types who spend too much time in front of the PC and have no idea about how sexually liberated this society has become.

    Come on folks, this is 2007 after all !

    Beano’s comment is typical of this attitude when he refers to “smut in the city” and seems to support the Council decision.

    Many couples (married or unmarried) frequent these shops, and if they wish to purchase something to spice and enjoy their physical relationship then what the hell is wrong with that…?

    Also, all of this other nonsense about exploitation of women is utter garbage. The majority of people using these shops these days are young females. They feel totally and completely comfortable using them. (And why shouldnt they…?)

    This decision makes a total and complete mockery of Belfast’s (less than honest) claim to be a progressive, liberated city. We still live in the dark ages and its about the fundamentalist Neanderthals on The City Council were brought to task…

  • interested

    macswiney
    All of that might ring true if you didn’t have an Ann Summers sitting on the corner of Rosemary St.

    Surely the point is that there has been a view taken that there isn’t anything wrong with anyone shopping in a sex shop if they want to. Its simply about where those shops are located – that’s a decision that all local authorities take. Otherwise they’d be scattered all over the place. Clearly Councils take a decision where is ‘acceptable’ and where isn’t. Belfast Council have simply decided that this isn’t the best area for them to be located.

    Sometimes the simplest answer actually is the correct one.

  • Interested,

    If you are seriously arguing that Gresham Street represents the heart of The City Centre then they are living in cloud cuckoo land! The only people who go there are people using these shops and occasional shoppers who get lost when they come out of the back of Castle Court!

    The location issue is a compete red herring.

    It has much more to do with ageing Conservative Council Chiefs imposing their archaic views on many of their male and female citizens who are perfectly entitled to have their needs (as represnted by these shops) catered for as one would find in the vast majority of most major city centres in the world.

    Belfast, unfortunately, will never attain such status as long as we tolerate ludicrous decisions like this…

  • nmc

    There are two things I would say in response to Macswiney. First up, there are shops down there which have been there a long time, and they (shop owners) have a right to try to prevent the area where they own businesses from turning into a sleazy sex shop area. I say sleazy by comparison to say Anne Summers, which is a very different type of sex shop.

    The second thing I would say is that these shops are near redundant thanks to the www, where we can buy and view just about anything.

    I am no prude, sufficed to say I have been in one or two shops down there. I just have to agree with local traders, the one selling school uniforms for example, whose target customers are families. Why should a well established shop have to move to make way for a new one. Surely the person trading first has a greater right, not least because they got planning permission/licenses in the first place and have a right to trade there.

  • NMC,

    Your comments about the views of local shop owners is avtually untrue. Clearly you DONT watch the local news then, beacuse they interviewed two of these ‘other’ shop owners in Gresham Street who BOTH wanted these shops to stay open!

    Also how can you say that Ann Summers is “a different type of sex shop” unless you have actually been INTO all of The Gresham Street Shops…? You have presented no basis whatsoever for this argument…

    Miss Behavin is a very modern, functional, and well laid-out store which sells many of the same products that Anne Summers does!!

    For someone who is “no prude”, your comments sound, well, lets say, very prudish…

  • nmc

    Macswiney,

    I didn’t see that report. I have assumed that children’s clothes shops and the families who use them would be more comfortable without them. NO NEED TO SHOUT BTW.

    “Also how can you say that Ann Summers is “a different type of sex shop” unless you have actually been INTO all of The Gresham Street Shops…? ”

    Check out line one paragraph three of my original post. I’ll spell it out, I have been in the various sex shops in Gresham Street and in Anne Summers. OK? Anne Summers does not sell hardcore pornography, it is more of a lingerie shop with toys.

    Again I’m no prude. I’ve used the products they sell, with my partner and alone. What I’m saying is that it is a council decision where these shops are, and Gresham Street ain’t happening for what seem to me obvious reasons.

  • NMC,

    The reason why rent and rates for shops in Gresham Street is among the very cheapest within the city centre radius is because hardly anyone passes through it!

    The location issue is (as I said before) is a complete red herring. Other shop owners have already said that their business is not affected in any way by the continued trading of these shops.

    So we are left with just one actual issue then.

    i.e. those people who go out of their way to “be offended” by just about anything that they dont agree with. Most citizens of this city arent offended by the location of these shops. Most of the other shop owners approve of their prescence. That just leave the sort of ‘concerned individuals’ who regularly write letters to their daily rag expressing their ‘outrage’ etc…

    The fact that these individuals never normally go this street is neither here nor there. Just another excuse to impose their archaic ‘moral standards’ on the rest of us…

  • Gonzo

    Could it possibly be that the reason the Council doesn’t want sex shops in Gresham Street is because the developers don’t want ANY established shops there.

    Getting the Council to get rid of some shops saves the developer having to use expensive legal means to force them out.

    It’s certainly less risky than burning them out, a la North Street Arcade…

  • bran flakes

    “Could it possibly be that the reason the Council doesn’t want sex shops in Gresham Street is because the developers don’t want ANY established shops there.”

    Gonzo

    You have hit the nail on the head.

    I was just thinking of the North Street Arcade fire and the complete silence surrounding the professional torching of the building.

    As for Gresham Street you have a gay bar, a second hand book shop, a kids clothes shop,a jewellery store and four adult shops. Thats it.

    If the shop owners have no problems with their fellow traders, i don’t see the problem unless the council are going to do another ‘Maysfield’, close it down and keep it empty until the right developer is prepared to pay top dollarand councillor’s can have more free junkets in america

  • a right to try to prevent the area where they own businesses from turning into a sleazy sex shop area

    This is gibberish. It has been a sleazy area for at least a decade and a half. Before that it was a regular bomb site. We used to go down there after school to peruse the bookshops.

    Gonzo is absolutely right, this is more to do with facilitating the expansion of Castle Court unhindered by people with established businesses in Gresham Street, Winetavern Street and Smithfield… including ones that are the height of salubriousness.

  • jocky

    You guys still buy your porno from a shop? have you not got the internet?

    Just think Soupy, all those people out there buying unlicensed dvd’s on the net, right now, millions of them, and they haven’t been certified by the BBFC, oh no, what’s the world coming to? How will there tiny little minds cope with unlicensed porn? Better get grassing them up, or start a ban the internet campaign
    “Down with this sort of thing”

  • DC

    “It has much more to do with ageing Conservative Council Chiefs imposing their archaic views on many of their male and female citizens who are perfectly entitled to have their needs (as represnted by these shops) catered for as one would find in the vast majority of most major city centres in the world.”

    “You guys still buy your porno from a shop? have you not got the internet?”

    Both utterly bang-on! BCC Christian elite-councillors ought to get over themselves really.