Editor's Viewpoint: Impasse at Stormont sends negative image
The North West 200 motorcycle racing spectacular can arguably claim to be Northern Ireland's top sporting attraction, drawing crowds of 85,000 over the several days of practice and racing. Indeed as far back as 2007 it was claimed that some two million people around the world logged on to the internet to watch the thrills and spills.
There is no doubt that it is a dangerous sport racing on ordinary roads at speeds of up to 200mph but the highly skilled riders take part knowing the risks and even the fatalities over the years have not dampened the enthusiasm of either the participants or the spectators.
With the current fine weather, the racing will take place against the backdrop of some of the finest scenery in Ireland and that adds to the enjoyment of those visiting the area from all parts of the UK and beyond.
It will also be an opportunity for visitors to see where the famous Open golf championship will take place at Portrush next year and will give tourist authorities an indication of how prepared they are in hospitality facilities for one of the world's most famous and lucrative sporting events.
What this year's North West 200 has highlighted is the untenable state of governance in Northern Ireland due to the stand-off between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
The High Court ruling earlier this week that a senior civil servant was wrong to make a ruling on the building of an incinerator plant on the outskirts of north Belfast has caused chaos and uncertainty.
As the head of the civil service in the province pointed out yesterday, in theory this means civil servants should not have signed orders closing roads in the North West to allow racing to take place. Only ministers should be making such decisions.
However, with no sign of devolution returning to Northern Ireland more opportunities to make political capital from showpiece events like the North West 200 and the Balmoral Show, which highlights what is arguably our greatest industry, the agri-food business, are being lost.
The sun may be shining and spirits are high but our politicians continue to cast a dark cloud over the province, creating uncertainty and sending out a negative image of a place which has so much talent and so much to offer if properly harnessed and directed. Instead, we have the bizarre situation where civil servants have to act illegally simply to keep the lights on.