The owner of a sex shop in Derry has vowed to go to the European Court to
be allowed to continue selling adult products in the city.
Ian Brown promised to drag Derry City Council through the legal system
after he was refused a licence in autumn of 2004 for his premises in Waterloo Street.
The shop is now facing closure after local councillors
dismissed Brown's application on the grounds that his shop was in an
Ian Brown has his say on The Melon Farmers:
Here we go again, turned down in Derry, no surprise there then!! We
were turned down on relevant locality, which is a farce.
Street are two pubs,1 club, 1 bookies, two derelict buildings, a tanning
studio, a mans barbers, a hairdressers, a trendy indie record shop,
florists, independant record shop, bike shop and an Irish tourist
shop,it is at least three streets away from the main shopping area of
Derry 500 yards from a chuch 500 yards from any school on a partially
We were and are trading for the last 36 months and this turn down was
expected, even though we presented a signed petition from the traders in
the street, showing no objection at worst, and at best, some of the
traders saying we were needed as foot-fall has increased in the street
and their trade has gone up.
The council still felt there was reason to turn this application down
, again leaving no licence available in the whole of N.Ireland (still
part of the UK), How long will this go on?
How long must I fight the system to allow adults the right of freedom of
choice in their own town, how long will councils act as the censors of
I believe my fight is justified and right, I should be allowed to sell
legal highstreet products legally in this country to an adult population
with the right to make their own decisions.
The fight goes on....................
Approximately two and a half years ago “Fantasy” at 10 Waterloo Street
Before we opened, we talked to the P.S.N.I. at Strand Road to ascertain
if we were trading in any way illegally and, as explained, due to the
fact that Derry council had never adopted the Misc. Provision order
1984/85 in relation to licensing of Sex Establishments, we were in-fact
breaking no laws.
Until the council brought in the order this would continue. Up to and
until the actual hearing of an application, we could continue to trade
legally in the eyes of the law.
Derry Council put the legislation in place during summer 2002 and after
making an application and fulfilling all the various criteria for same,
including lodging ฃ3000 with the application, we are now in Nov 2004
hearing the application.
We opened the shop in good faith with comments from trading standards
chiefs implying that the way to trade legally in N.I. was with a licence
available in this country under U.K. legislation, with the final
decision being made at council level.
As R18 DVD’s/Videos are a legal classification in this country, it was
assumed that a local council, given the authority to licence, would use
this opportunity wisely.
It is our opinion that it is in the best interests of the council to
remove, or at least diminish, the underground sale of unclassified,
counterfeit and illegal material whilst providing a legal, controllable
and legitimate outlet for the sale of adult material to the consenting
adult population of this city who can exercise their freedom to choose.
We further believe that it would be in the interests of the elected
representatives of the council, to protect the community from the
indiscriminate, under-the-counter sales of adult material to anyone,
including minors, who have the money to buy this material. Furthermore
this revenue would find its way into many and various pockets without
any of the government agencies receiving a penny: Derry City through
rates and licence fee; Customs and Excise through Vat and Inland Revenue
through salary and wages.
We think the Council should take these considerations into account when
making a responsible decision.
THE GENERAL PUBLIC
The issue of the adult shop in Waterloo Street, we believe, should also
The main contention is the sale of R18 DVD /Video under licence to the
We contend the adult public covering male, female, couples , singles,
gay, straight, have the right of choice and they should be offered their
right of choice as in the rest of the UK.
We fully appreciate not everyone likes what we sell and we understand
that the products to some people are offensive. However, they are no
more offensive than red meat to some vegetarians or cigarettes to some
reformed smokers. This should not stop people having access to these
products in a suitably controlled environment.
We believe most strongly in this day and age that people are entitled to
the right of choice, and people are responsible enough to exercise that
choice. If someone doesn’t like a TV programme, it can be turned off. If
someone disapproves of alcohol, they will not go into a pub. If someone
doesn’t like what we sell, they won’t come in.
Now, more than ever, with both satellite and terrestrial television
reducing their censorship criteria, the argument for not licensing our
store becomes weaker.
We agree wholeheartedly with advising and protecting those that need it
but we balance that with a belief in allowing the rest to have their
rights of choice and go about their personal life without any
These products have already been censored by our government and passed
suitable for resale. For a council to vote no for no other reason than
personal taste is, in our opinion, an incorrect exercise of power.
Let me address some of the other issues.
We fully understand the protection of the innocents and I personally
have spoken out many times about this in the media. It troubles me that
I should have to reference sex and children in the same sentence but it
is a link that is often mentioned.
Let me make our position absolutely clear. Our shop and our products are
for over 18s only. This is a policy we strictly enforce. We will not
serve anyone we suspect of being underage.
We find it troubling that the first line of argument presented by
churches against our store often makes reference to children. We have
nothing to sell to children, are not interested in doing so and
certainly have no products that in any way could be construed as a
Additionally, it should be noted, there are no papers, surveys, or any
substantiated reports claiming adult shops are the cause of any
undesired activity. We also point out there is no evidence of sex
attacks in the Waterloo Area having increased since the opening of the
shop those many years ago.
We believe the Council should give a lot of thought to avoid falling
into the trap of being perceived as a secondary censor. We would remind
the Council that even before an application was made, Channel 9 news,
Foyle Radio, Q102, the NW Telegraph, The Journal, Derry News, Foyle News
and Highland Radio covered the store opening - there were no individual
complaints lodged to Derry Council. Complaints only came about as a
result of some determined lobbying after the event. These complaints
were centred on objectors from the Pennyburn area, a full พ mile from
the shop. We would dispute what effects, if any, this shop would have on
these particular residents.
In consideration of the admission of current objections, we currently
have a list of well over 16,000 individuals from the local area who have
welcomed the shop, purchased goods from the shop and have signed our
petition to keep the shop open.
We also have a letter from the traders in the area that have no
objection to the shop being open.
TRADE AND COMMERCE
The trader view should also be explored further.
Since opening, we can prove and offer supporting evidence that
additional business has come into the street, thus keeping money in the
city and Waterloo Street that may have travelled to other cities or
Our client base is many and varied.
As mentioned earlier we have shopping for hen and stag nights, the
wedding industry being one of the largest industries in NI.
We have tourist trade both Euro and Dollar.
We have a varied base of other clients including those wanting to
address problems in their sex life, where we can offer a wide range of
We provide adult toys and sex aids recommended by every agony aunt in
We provide devices recommend by the medical trade to those with various
We provide a number of different ranges of glamour wear, bedroom wear
and fun fancy dress.
We promote sexual wellbeing and safe sex with a full range of condoms.
We actively promote safe sex, both in the shop and at sponsored events.
Our customers represent the full spectrum of our community, drawn from
all backgrounds. They are normal, upstanding citizens who are spending
money in this city and are also coming from as far away as Omagh, Sligo,
Letterkenny, Buncrana, Strabane, Lifford, and from many other areas too
numerous to mention.
Recently a similar shop opened in Letterkenny. Some might say, ‘let
everybody shop there’. We are sure the public would travel out of this
city to do just that and whilst there spend money in other Letterkenny
retail outlets. Driving retail trade out of the city rather than
encourage it to increase is a disservice to our retailers.
Our staff, our suppliers for the shop such as painters, printers, shop
fitters, stationers, floorers, oil suppliers, electricians, banks,
electrical suppliers, alarm companies, newspaper advertising, radio
advertising all contribute to this business putting money back into the
local economy. All benefit financially from our presence.
We have always been actively involved with anything to do with the
quality of the shopping environment, indeed support any local authority
initiative to improve the area. We are always updating and improving the
appearance and layout of the shop. Council will note we have changed the
name of the shop from Fantasy to Bliss in order to present a more
generic face to the public.
Further to this, Council should note we have now opened another shop in
Waterloo Street. This business is unrelated to the business under
discussion but employs a further three part-time staff, provides further
revenue to the city and gives another reason for people to use this
We have an established party-plan business directly related to the shop.
This aspect of the business provides part-time employment to eight
individuals in the greater North West area and, by the very nature of
the party-plan, allows individuals to earn money who might not have the
chance to take up employment elsewhere.
We are in business because there is a demand for what we sell.
We chose the location of the shop to fall inside the guidelines of the
Misc. Prov. order on relevant locality. We are not near a church, school
nor bus stops where children gather. Our impact on the street and
surrounding district has been minimal. We have brought jobs and revenue
to the city.
If there was no demand for our products there would be no need for the
shop. Our customers are normal people representing all aspects of our
community. We are experienced retailers who wish to service that demand
and operate our business in a responsible and open manner
I t is our opinion and, we believe, that of the many people who shop
with us that the adult population of this city should be treated as such
and allowed to exercise their own choice as to whether to shop with us