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Coronavirus: Meeting to decide if St Patrick's Day parades in Ireland will get green light

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Organisers of more than 100 St Patrick's Day parades and festivals in the Republic will meet over the next 72 hours to determine if events should be cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus threat

Organisers of more than 100 St Patrick's Day parades and festivals in the Republic will meet over the next 72 hours to determine if events should be cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus threat

Organisers of more than 100 St Patrick's Day parades and festivals in the Republic will meet over the next 72 hours to determine if events should be cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus threat

Organisers of more than 100 St Patrick's Day parades and festivals in the Republic will meet over the next 72 hours to determine if events should be cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus threat.

Despite the Irish Government's controversial decision to allow the St Patrick's Festival to proceed in Dublin, regional parade organisers are coming under mounting pressure to put public health and safety concerns to the forefront.

The decision to allow the major St Patrick's Day city parades to proceed has been criticised by both health officials and campaigners.

Vicky Phelan, the CervicalCheck campaigner, said she was worried that lives are at risk from such mass gatherings and the potential for spread of the virus.

She backed Prof John Crown and Prof Sam McConkey in their calls for parades to be postponed.

Parades in Dublin (Stepaside) Cork (Blarney, Youghal, Midleton and Cobh) and Waterford (Dungarvan) have already been cancelled or postponed.

Dungarvan is the largest event to date to be cancelled while Blarney in Cork became the latest parade to confirm a cancellation.

Organisers involved in more than 100 other events will meet over the next three days to decide whether to proceed as planned or postpone their events, possibly until the summer.

"The vast majority of these events don't have overseas bands booked or foreign tour groups visiting which simplifies things somewhat," one parade organiser said.

"Every organiser knows someone who is elderly or with health problems and the concern is about putting the interests of these people front and centre. There is significant pressure to postpone events."

Dungarvan's parade organisers said that while the postponement decision was regretted, they felt it was the correct call in light of the covid-19 situation.

Youghal was the first Irish town to cancel its parade last Friday and its organisers said other parades should now carefully consider their example.

Midleton and Cobh also postponed their parades.

Midleton officials said they "stand over" their postponement decision despite the Irish Government's stance on the Dublin event.

Belfast Telegraph