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Coronavirus: Belfast City Council cancels St Patrick's Day celebration

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Press Eye - St Patricks Day Parade - Belfast City Centre - 17th March 2019
Photograph by Declan Roughan

Press Eye - St Patricks Day Parade - Belfast City Centre - 17th March 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan

Participants take part in the St Patrick’s Day parade on the streets of Dublin in 2017 (PA)

Participants take part in the St Patrick’s Day parade on the streets of Dublin in 2017 (PA)

Press Eye - St Patricks Day Parade - Belfast City Centre - 17th March 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan

Belfast City Council has cancelled its annual St Patrick’s Day parade in the city in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Northern Ireland.

Councillors raised the issue at a meeting of the council on Monday night, where they considered the risk of hosting the celebration, which attracts thousands of revellers each year as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in Northern Ireland.

Speaking following the meeting, Lord Mayor Danny Baker said: "I believe that as a precaution, postponing the St. Patrick's Day celebrations is the responsible thing to do.

"This decision was not taken lightly. I have spoken with the Public Health Agency and other health officials in advance of this decision.

"As the Mayor of the city, I believe there is an obligation on myself and all councillors to protect the health and well-being of citizens.

"We hope to reschedule these celebrations for a time in the not too distant future."

Following a Cobra meeting in London on Monday, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said there were no plans in the UK to cancel large gatherings.

It's after Irish Government cancelled Dublin's St Patrick's Day parade in response to the coronavirus outbreak during a Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Monday.

Cork cancelled its parade earlier on Monday.

More than 500,000 people are expected to travel to the Republic of Ireland for St Patrick's Day parades and festivals.

Dublin officials said the decision was made following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

In a statement, Cork City Council said public welfare had to be paramount and it felt the cancellation of the parade was the correct decision.

On Friday the council said there were no plans to cancel it.

“We will continue to follow public health advice and will act in accordance with any advice received," a spokeswoman said.

On Sunday, five people were diagnosed with coronavirus in NI, bringing the number of cases to 12. In the Republic 24 people have been confirmed as having the virus.

Belfast Telegraph