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Council cancels St. Patrick’s Day festivities

St. Patrick’s Day 2020 will have a muted feel across the country and the globe with the universal cancellation of traditional parades and festivities due to coronavirus concerns.

Newry Mourne and Down District Council was one of the first to announce the cancellation of its planned St. Patrick’s Day parades in Newry and Downpatrick when it made the announcement following an emergency meeting of officials on Tuesday morning last.

All street festivities have also been scrapped however some planned activities at Council museums and art centres are to proceed as planned.

A statement from the Council read: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has taken the decision this morning to cancel the St Patrick’s Day Parades due to be held in Downpatrick and Newry on 17 March.  This decision has been made in consultation with party leaders and is in line with the recent cancellations of St Patrick’s Day parades elsewhere.  The Council appreciates the negative impact this decision may have on local businesses at this time, however this decision has been taken as a precaution given our Members’ and the public’s concern around the coronavirus response.”

Commenting on the decision, Council Chairperson Charlie Casey said: “Our Council took the decision to cancel our St. Patrick’s Day parades in Newry and Downpatrick.  As Chairperson of Newry Mourne and Down Council I believe that there is an obligation on our Council to protect the health & well-being of citizens.  I believe that this decision, however unfortunate, is in public interest.

St. Patrick’s Day 2019 parade:  There will be no repeat of last year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Newry as coronavirus prompts cancellation of all events

“It is essential that we all work together to enable all individuals, families, communities and businesses to get through what will be a trying and testing time.  I intend to ensure that our Council will do its utmost to ensure that all those workers and businesses caught up in this ongoing crisis are protected as best as practically possible.

“In the meantime I would ask that people remain calm, vigilant and unified. Please continue to shop local and support our businesses in this time of challenge.”

Sinn Féin’s group leader on the Council, Councillor Willie Clarke supported the decision and all for an All-Ireland response in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “Given the concerns raised by the community in relation to the Coronavirus which is extremely dangerous to the most vulnerable in our community, Council group leaders took the decision on Tuesday morning following discussions with senior council officials, it is essential that we have an All-Ireland response to this epidemic, which is spreading rapidly across Europe. 

“I understand the disappointment participants, organisers, visitors and businesses are experiencing.  St. Patrick’s Day is a great time for this region as thousands of citizens and tourists gather in Newry and Downpatrick to celebrate Irish culture and identity in a vibrant and inclusive manner. I understand the disappointment the community will feel in regards the cancellation, lots of effort has been undertaken by organisers, voluntary groups schools and council staff, I would like to see an event held at a later date if it is possible, to reschedule these celebrations, sections of the business community will undoubtedly see a reduction in business. It is important that actions are taken and funding obtained to provide resources to mitigate these losses. 

“As group leader of Sinn Féin I believe there is an obligation on myself and all councillors to protect the health and well-being of citizens given the spread of coronavirus and growing concern amongst the public, I believe that as a precaution, postponing the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is the responsible thing to do, the decision to cancel our St Patrick’s Day parades was not taken lightly,” he added.