Irvinestown hairdresser Becky McClaughry has written a letter to Health Minister Robin Swann about the uncertainty she as a small business owner is facing. Miss McClaughry spoke to the Impartial Reporter about her feelings on the stalemate at Stormont after ministers entered a fourth day of discussions on reopening close contact services and hospitality which closed for a four week circuit breaker on October 16.

Becky wrote her letter as she felt “helpless”. An extract from her letter said: “I can't believe the way in which the executive has treated self-employed workers, and business owners. Two sleepless nights and looking like it could be a third!.”

She finished by outlining her own sacrifices. She said: “I have stepped up numerous times this year under the advice of Stormont Ministers. In March 2020 I closed my business when asked. In April 2020 I cancelled my wedding and in October 2020 - I closed my business when asked, again. All we are asking is that the executive shows us the same respect we have shown them over the last eight months.”

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter Becky said: “We were getting nowhere, and you can’t even get in contact with people who are making decisions because they’re all up in Stormont.”

Becky has experienced a whole host of emotions as she followed the news from Stormont on Twitter. “On Monday I was in a tangent, on Tuesday I felt it was a bit of laugh like are they being serious and then yesterday (Wednesday) was nearly a meltdown.” Becky believes that close-contact services are being pushed to the back of the line by the executive. She said: “We were one of the last places to open during the first lockdown and then we were told to close with 48 hours’ notice and now there is no notice given about reopening.”

Becky has made the decision to stay closed over this weekend as it would be too much pressure to organise appointments for her clients on short notice.

Becky has found the lack of plan by the government frustrating, she said: “Even if they had a plan it would make things easier, even if they could tell us how many people are allowed in a salon. At this stage I don’t care when we go back as long as we get back and a date is set and we don’t get closed before Christmas. It would be my worst nightmare to be closed in the second week of December after being open four weeks.”