The organisers of the Drogheda St Parick’s Day parade have cited health and safety as the reason behind their curb on Irish dancers and gymnasts performing along the route.
The organisers sent out a press release to local media saying they had been advised by gardaí that the tradition of groups stopping to perform for the crowds during the parade was “unsafe” and could not be continued.
A spokeswoman said: “It’s unfortunate, as people do enjoy watching the Irish dancers or other performance schools, but this causes delays and gaps in the parade, and can be unsafe as other groups catch up.
“So we are appealing to groups to show themselves off, keep on marching, and ensure that the parade moves along smoothly together. It’s out of our hands at this stage, and we hope to see all our participants from Drogheda, Louth , Meath and further afield taking part again on Sunday at 12 noon.”
The chairman of Drogheda’s St Patrick’s Day parade, Anthony Lynch , said some of the media coverage of the decision had got “completely out of hand”.
Mr Lynch stressed Irish dancers had in previous years performed in front of the main stage along the route, but this had held up the parade for those following on behind.
“It was causing a massive gap in the parade. We’ve been trying to stop it for years,” he said. “We shifted the viewing stand to stop these gaps.”
Mr Lynch pointed out that in previous years the gaps were so wide that many spectators thought the parade was over and went home.
“We have from four-year-olds up marching in the parade. They will be in these flimsy little uniforms and March is no time to be stood around waiting on a cold and windy street.”
Mr Lynch stressed that Irish dancers will still be able to perform, provided they keep moving while they are dancing. This is the model that has been adopted in the American parades.
“We are running this parade for the last 33 years. It has never been suggested to ban anything. It has been taken out of proportion,” Mr Lynch said.
The decision not to allow the dancers to stop and perform prompted a headline in the Irish Daily Star stating that “the jig’s up”, with the paper saying it was a case of “health and safety gone trad”.
The Drogheda parade will feature 70 community groups, clubs, societies and local businesses. It will be lead by the Drogheda Brass Band and will also include the local Lourdes Brass Band , as well as a band from Northern Ireland .