Bandon and Bantry were the first two towns in West Cork to announce today that they are cancelling their St Patrick’s Day parades on Tuesday next, March 17th, to try to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
They followed the example of three East Cork towns, Youghal, Midleton and Cobh, who cancelled their parades over the weekend. Also this afternoon, the Cork St Patrick’s Day parade was called off due to concerns for the welfare of attendees and participants, as were the two parades planned for Kinsale and also events in Blarney and Castletownbere.
Later in the day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made the long-awaited announcement that all of the St Patrick's Festival parades around the country are to be cancelled, on the advice of health officials, in order to slow the spread of coronavirus in Ireland.
The Skibbereen parade cancellation was confirmed on Tuesday in a statement from Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce, which read: 'With much regret we have to announce that the Skibbereen St Patrick’s Day Parade is cancelled following the government’s directive and the advice of public health officials.
'On behalf of the Chamber Board and committee members we would like to thank everyone who intended to participate in the parade for all their hard work over the past weeks and months, and to those who were going to attend and help us in celebrating our national holiday. We are sorry for the disappointment caused.'
In a statement issued to ‘The Southern Star’ on Monday morning, Eileen O’Shea, chair of Bantry Development and Tourism, on behalf of the organising committee of the St Patrick's Day event, said: ‘Due to the current situation and health threat to our community and visitors we have cancelled our event for this year. We know the community will understand this difficult decision as some people look forward to this annual gathering each year.’
Fred Treacy, chairman of the Kinsale St Patrick's Day parade, expressed his committee's regret at having to cancel both the maritime parade on Monday evening, March 16th, and the street parade the following day. 'The decision has been taken after much deliberation and consideration of the daily updates regarding the virus and due to the importance of containing any spread of same.'
Meanwhile, in Cork city, in the context of the evolving circumstances around Covid-19 virus, a meeting was held this morning between the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr John Sheehan, and chief executive Ann Doherty at which the holding of the St Patrick’s Day parade in the city centre was discussed.
A risk assessment, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, was carried out by Cork City Council, which concluded that based on the demographic of those attending the parade, the close proximity of people attending the event and the duration of the event (among other considerations), Cork City Council is not in a position to provide the necessary assurances in relation to current WHO guidelines.
Both the Lord Mayor and chief executive agreed that the welfare of attendees and participants is the primary concern and so, they have made a decision to cancel this year’s parade.