Alliance Social Development spokesperson, Stewart Dickson MLA, will propose an amendment to the Licensing of Pavement Cafes Bill on Tuesday, which will seek to ensure that any public space used by a café, restaurant or pub promotes shared space.
Stewart Dickson said: "When public space is being licensed to a private vendor, we have a duty to ensure that licensed space remains shared. I would not like to see pavement cafes become outposts of sectarian graffiti or emblems designed to mark territory. I want to see welcoming spaces which build on our tourist potential and reach out to local and visitor alike to create a positive public image.
"The intention of my amendment is that these areas, which remain public space but are used by private businesses, are licensed on the basis that they cannot detract from our desire to ensure that every space is shared space.
"The amendment is not burdensome on owners. It uses the phrase 'as far as reasonably practicable' which should protect licensees from the inadvertent display of material by clients. It would also allow displays for events such as St Patrick's Day or a Royal occasion.
"For me, one of the two pillars on which our shared future will be built is shared space. Shared spaces are spaces where culture and identity can be celebrated and where no-one feels uncomfortable or intimidated by symbols which are sectarian, racist or intimidating.
"Symbols and emblems which demarcate territory or make it seem like an area is not accessible to the whole community are at the core of this problem.
"Shared space should be instituted across our planning policies. While this legislation represents a relatively modest change, it should not escape our relentless pursuit of good relations and a shared community."
Alliance amendment to the Licensing of Pavement Cafes Bill
Clause 6, Page 4, Line 41
At end insert -
'(1A) A pavement café licence must include a condition requiring the licence holder, so far as is reasonably practicable, not to display in the area covered by the licence anything that would be detrimental to good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.' [Mr Stewart Dickson, Mr Kieran McCarthy]