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Roads minister Danny Kennedy: 'I'll save North West 200'

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Transport Minister Danny Kennedy and Translink Group Chief Executive Catherine Mason mark the official opening of the newly extended Carrickfergus Train Station Park and Ride. Representing an investment of around £800,000, the facility now offers commuters 295 parking spaces. It supports the planned introduction of new Class 4000 trains on the Larne Railway Line this Autumn.



Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy and Translink Group Chief Executive Catherine Mason mark the official opening of the newly extended Carrickfergus Train Station Park and Ride. Representing an investment of around £800,000, the facility now offers commuters 295 parking spaces. It supports the planned introduction of new Class 4000 trains on the Larne Railway Line this Autumn. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy and Translink Group Chief Executive Catherine Mason mark the official opening of the newly extended Carrickfergus Train Station Park and Ride. Representing an investment of around £800,000, the facility now offers commuters 295 parking spaces. It supports the planned introduction of new Class 4000 trains on the Larne Railway Line this Autumn. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Roads Minister Danny Kennedy has vowed to ride to the rescue of the beleagured North West 200 international road races.

The Ulster Unionist Minister for Regional Development made a promise to review road closing orders currently restricting race times and days after witnessing first hand the Saturday washout that disappointed thousands of local fans and overseas visitors.

And he voiced support for an Isle of Man TT-style festival week at the North West with racing over four days instead of the present two. Sunday racing, however, is not an option being considered by the race organisers or Minister with a number of churches situated around the 8.9 mile Coleraine-Portrush-Portstewart circuit.

Minister Kennedy (right) told the Belfast Telegraph: "I am amenable to providing the flexibility the North West organisers are seeking with road closing orders to avoid future situations like Saturday.

"I shared the frustration of all concerned. Presently the race is at the mercy of the weather on the three days the road closing orders are confined to.

"Legislation would be required in the Assembly to extend the orders and I would not envisage any political impediment to their passage. Obviously the practicalities would have to be looked at and a period of public consultation required with circuit residents.

"But I would favour and support the extended racing period the North West organisers are seeking to underpin the future of the race."

Belfast Telegraph