Royals visitors mingle with the crowds at Clogher Show
Duke and Duchess visit show as part of NI trip
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were given a right royal welcome to one of Northern Ireland's biggest agricultural exhibitions yesterday.
The couple visited the Clogher Valley Show where they were greeted by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Co Tyrone, Gail Boyd, as part of their two-day trip to Northern Ireland.
The Duke of Gloucester, who is the Queen's cousin and often represents her at events around the world, joined thousands of people at the 98th staging of the spectacle.
Speaking at the event, the DUP leader said that the show has grown from "strength to strength".
"It is now one of the leading agricultural shows in Northern Ireland, attracting over 12,000 visitors annually and helping the local economy as well as providing a great family day out," she said. "With attractions ranging from livestock to vintage cars, the show has something for everyone."
Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen also attended the show yesterday, for the first time.
She said: "Clogher Valley is a rich and vibrant rural community and agriculture is a major part of life and the economy in the area.
"The prominent role of farming in the locality is reflected in the very high quality of the food and livestock on show here, which rank alongside the best to be found anywhere. The effort and commitment of local farmers, producers and processors to showcase the very best of the Northern Ireland agri-food industry is to be commended, particularly as we progress through our year of Year of Food and Drink."
It also emerged during the event that Ash Dieback - a fungal disease that infects ash trees - is continuing to gain a foothold in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) say it is to fundamentally review its policies, where the disease is concerned.
"We have gone beyond the stage of eradicating the problem," confirmed Diane Stevenson, head of policy with DAERA's plant health division.
"We are now looking at containment measures that will minimise the impact of the disease on Northern Ireland's ash tree population."
Ms Stevenson also confirmed that Brexit will force Forest Service, an agency within DAERA, to fundamentally review all of the plant health regulations that relate to Northern Ireland.
"Currently, our legislation is linked to the EU directives that have been agreed over recent years," she said. "But with Brexit now pending, we have to ensure that all of our plant health measures are fit for purpose."