Organisers of this year’s Youghal St Patrick’s Day parade have cancelled the event over concerns about the current coronavirus outbreak.
It comes as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland rises to 13, including one case in a person who does not have a history of travel to the affected areas. This patient, a male from the south of the country, is being treated at Cork University Hospital.
In a statement this morning, organisers said it was “with deep regret that Youghal 4 All has found themselves in the position of having to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade due to our concerns about COVID-19.
“The festivities in Youghal on St. Patrick’s Day have always been well supported and it is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the rich and varied culture of the town. Young and old alike throng the streets to watch the parade."
The organisers said the health of participants and of the community is its primary concern.
It added: “We would like to apologise to the public, clubs, groups, societies and businesses affected by this decision but feel that we must act in the best interests of public health and safety.”
Meanwhile, organisers of the Midleton St Patrick’s Day parade say the event is being postponed.
In a statement issued this afternoon, organisers said the decision was not made lightly.
“Our ethos and focus over the last three years has been on safety. With this in mind we feel the best compromise to ensure the health and safety of our whole community would be to postpone our parade,” it said.
“We as a committee have put countless hours of our free time into volunteering to organise this each year so our decision to postpone does not come easily, but we stand over our ethos of safety first and hope to hold your support going forward,” it added.
The Committee has thanked the public, clubs, groups, societies and businesses, especially those affected by the decision, for their continued support of the parade. “We hope to have you all out in force to celebrate everything Irish in the near future,” they said.
The Cobh St Patrick’s Day Committee has also announced today that they are postponing their parade.
In a post on social media this evening, the parade's organising committee said it had worked tirelessly to bring back the parade, but had taken the decision to postpone it amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
“The health and well-being of our community is paramount and supersedes any event regardless of work and plans gone into making the event super special for Cobh and Great Island,” it said.
It added: “We will post updates on our Social Media accounts once we know and decide when it is safe to launch the event.”
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has this evening said that the Government is not recommending a ban on mass gatherings ‘at this stage’.
He said that this will be kept under review.