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Decision to expand the Balmoral Show to four days offers a chance for the Assembly to prove its own pedigree

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 04/06/2016

Ruas chief executive Colin McDonald
Ruas chief executive Colin McDonald

People generally will welcome the announcement that the Balmoral Show will extend its programme from three days to four next year.

It will run from Wednesday, May 10 until Saturday, May 13 in 2017, and this indicates the popularity of this important fixture in the Northern Ireland calendar, which attracts between 90,000 and 100,000 visitors annually.

This is great news for a Show that reflects our important agri-business, which is our biggest industry, and it is fitting that the announcement comes in the 'Year of Food and Drink'.

The news of the Show's extension is an endorsement of its new venue, which has had some teething problems, and the organisers hope that the extra day will alleviate the traffic congestion which has caused frustration and delays.

RUAS Chief Executive Colin McDonald has confirmed that it will be asking Stormont to enable the police to introduce temporary one-way traffic systems and road closures to help improve the flow on approach roads.

The organisers will also tackle the problem of some visitors being stuck in traffic jams as they were forced to wait for quite some time while cattle were being led from the livestock halls to be exhibited in the main arena.

Overall it is a good decision to extend the duration of the Show, because it always seemed odd that it closed on a Friday, when people were just starting their weekend break. The Balmoral Show will be closer in line with similar events which use the Saturday to stage popular events.

The ball is now in the court of our "Fresh Start" Stormont Executive which will have a year to address infrastructure and other issues.

It is important that these initiatives succeed, given the huge attendance at the Show, which includes some 700 trade exhibitors.

Sometimes the work of government seems remote from people, but this is one area where the Stormont Executive can demonstrate that it is growing from strength to strength, just like the Balmoral Show.

Belfast Telegraph

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