Balmoral Show: DUP leader accuses Sinn Fein as traffic chaos sparks political row
Robinson accuses Sinn Fein over road
First Minister Peter Robinson has blamed Sinn Fein for traffic chaos at the Balmoral Show, claiming the party is blocking plans for a new access road to the Maze site.
Long queues to enter the first day of the show yesterday via narrow country roads from the motorway were a bone of contention among visitors and exhibitors.
And on the way home in the evening, tempers frayed, with car park attendants subjected to abuse from some irate drivers.
Some had been waiting for more than two-and-a-half hours trying to get out.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers was even held up on her visit after her staff were caught in the congestion for 90 minutes yesterday morning.
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Two years ago, Terence Brannigan, the then chairman of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation, promised a new road to make the show more accessible.
The show moved from south Belfast to the site of the former Maze Prison three years ago.
The new Balmoral Park hosted its first show in 2013, but there were complaints about the local road infrastructure.
In the aftermath, £20m was pledged to construct two major roads linking the new show site to the nearby motorway network.
Mr Brannigan said rural roads were "not designed for that kind of traffic", and that work was under way to put the new infrastructure in place.
"In 12 months' time it won't be the same," he promised at the time.
But two years later the country road system in the area is still exactly the same.
Mr Robinson claimed that Sinn Fein was blocking moves to develop a new road to make the show more accessible.
"Sinn Fein really do need to move on the issue of the entrance and egress from the motorway, that is being held back," he said.
"We should be moving on with that."
Mr Robinson said he was keen to see better access to the show.
"We are very keen to see that, and there are other improvements around pavements and so forth around the area," he said.
"We would like to see them moving on. Anyone that came into the show this morning had at least mild queues. This needs to be done."
Mr Robinson said Sinn Fein was blocking "everything to do with the site".
"Anybody that asks us here today what is happe ning with it, we are telling them. It is Sinn Fein holding it up," he said.
"If you are having to wait in a queue for half an hour it doesn't help trying to attract more people in to the show. People should be able to get in as quickly as possible, and be able to get out as quickly as possible."
Tens of thousands of visitors attended the first day of the Balmoral Show yesterday.
Visitors were encouraged to use public transport, with a shuttle bus laid on to bring people to the show grounds from Lisburn.
However, many came by car and the transport of livestock put further pressure on roads.