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Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, left, and Dr Christopher Stange, Chair of Fairtrade Belfast and Honorary Consul for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Northern Ireland holding Fairtrade City renewal certificate.

BELFAST, N. Ireland – This city is celebrating the renewal of its dual status as a “Fairtrade City” for a further two years, to November 2013.

The accomplishment came through the leadership and direction of Dr Christopher Stange, Honorary Consul of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to Northern Ireland and Chair of Fairtrade Belfast.

A reception was held by the Lord Mayor of Belfast in the City Hall to commemorate the achievements of the Fairtrade Belfast Committee. The committee is a voluntary organisation, comprised of representatives from local and foreign governments, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions, charities, ethnic minority sector, supermarkets, retailers, business and individuals.

Belfast was the first place to attain dual Fairtrade accreditation. The city gained Fairtrade City status in 2005 from the U.K. Fairtrade Foundation and in 2006 from Fairtrade Ireland.

“On behalf of the people of Belfast, I would like to commend the dedicated voluntary work of the committee and maintaining Belfast’s status as a Fairtrade City for all these years. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world,” Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said of the renewal.

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By getting companies to pay fair prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of modern trade, which can penalise the poorest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have greater control over their own lives.

Fairtrade is about local consumerism and procurement, having an effect in an international context. Fairtrade helps over 8 million people in the developing world, particularly the Caribbean and Africa, with annual U.K. sales now over £1.17 billion. This has only been possible from the commitment to Fairtrade of large businesses, government, independent retailers, hospitality market and individuals.

“We can all play our part by choosing the Fairtrade option, looking for the Fairtrade certification mark, when out shopping,” Honorary Consul Stange said. “Fairtrade is for developing world farmers, producing commodities we do not produce in Northern Ireland but readily consume.

“Therefore, due to the vulnerability of marginalised producers, especially in the Caribbean and Africa, it is vital to ensure they are receiving a fair price for their efforts and can access markets, which is guaranteed through Fairtrade. Fairtrade has benefitted our banana farmers and we look forward to building upon these efforts.”

Fairtrade Belfast is finalising plans for events during Fairtrade Fortnight 2012, which runs from Feb. 27 to March 11.

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