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Foster attends first public event with McGuinness in role as First Minister

By David Young

Published 14/01/2016

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with (from left) BBC broadcaster Nigel Barden; Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan; Laura Briggs of BBC Good Food magazine and Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell at the Ulster Hall showcase
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with (from left) BBC broadcaster Nigel Barden; Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan; Laura Briggs of BBC Good Food magazine and Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell at the Ulster Hall showcase

New First Minister Arlene Foster has attended her first joint public engagement with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The DUP leader and the Sinn Fein veteran were guests at a dinner in Belfast's Ulster Hall to mark the launch of a tourism drive to promote Northern Ireland's locally produced food and drink.

The Year of Food and Drink 2016 initiative, which has a different theme for every month, has promised to put food and drink at the heart of the visitor experience.

And foodies will be delighted to learn that the BBC's Good Food show is coming to Belfast - along with celebrity chefs the Hairy Bikers, James Martin, Paul Hollywood and Paul Rankin.

Thousands of food lovers flock to the BBC Good Food shows each year to see, smell, touch and taste new flavours and ingredients.

The event will take place from October 14-16 at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

Arriving at last night's banquet, Mrs Foster said: "The quality of our food is a major reason why people come to Northern Ireland. Food tourism already generates over £350m per year to the local economy, but I believe there is significant room for further growth.

"Tonight's event gives us the opportunity to unashamedly restate that Northern Ireland's food and drink heritage is not just unique, but among the finest tastes and flavours to be found anywhere in the world.

"As the next 12 months of food and drink experiences unfold, there will be no better time for locals, visitors and global markets alike to enjoy a true taste of Northern Ireland."

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