The First Minister Paul Givan visited Ballymoney this morning (Thursday 19th) whilst on a summer break with his family along the North Coast.
After a brief stop at the local DUP constituency officer of Assembly colleague and North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey, it was off on the short distance to the Ballymoney Museum, where he was welcomed by Causeway Coast & Glens Councils Mayor, Councillor Richard Holmes and Chief Executive David Jackson.
Whilst there, the First Minister took the opportunity to tour the latest exhibition, celebrating the NI100 Centenary and the permanent displays of the local road racing history.
Speaking to us following the tour, Mr Givan said: “Spending a few days up here with the family –based out of Portstewart – travelling up and down to Belfast each day.
“The last couple of days, the weather hasn’t been great, been on the beach getting wet anyway.”
On the topic of the exhibition, The First Minister went on: “Great to be here in Ballymoney.
“Just been with the Mayor and looked at the exhibitions in place for the centenary here and of course the motorsports and the history Ballymoney has with the Dunlops that is legendary.”
However, despite being on his Summer break, the topic of COVID-19 and the ongoing restrictions is never too far away.
“We’ve moved over the last two months and been able to remove a lot of the restrictions (the Executive) had in place, and now there is just a small number that are still there.“
Mr Givan spoke to us of the hope that the first Executive meeting of September would bring ‘further easing of restrictions’, confirmed that the transmission rate remains high but is ‘plateauing’.
Concluding that the Executive was, “moving in the right direction”.
While visiting the town, Mr Givan met and spoke with some of the locals and businesses as he made his way down Main Street.
Speaking during the visit, Mervyn Storey Imparted the importance of the First Ministers visit to the town, saying: “He is the first minister of Northern Ireland. This is the Northern Ireland centenary, and despite all the challenges in relation to Covid, it’s been a year to be able to remember the fact that Northern Ireland has an existence over 100 years and to have the First Minister of Northern Ireland come to visit us today, I was very pleased when Paul accepted the invitation.”
Of course, no visit to Ballymoney would be complete these days without dropping in on the towns latest resident – ‘The Ballymoney Cow’ – a new art installation at the bottom of the town.
As yet unnamed, the First Minister was asked if he had any suggestion for the Cows name, to which he replied: “Maisey, because it’s my Daughters name.”
The First Minister concluded his visit by dropping into a new local golf business, based in Dultons Business Park on the Ballymena Road.