CORONAVIRUS

Kilkenny TD: Parade should be postponed until Covid-19 'under control'

However, council chairman says it and New York trip will proceed unless health experts say otherwise

Sam Matthews

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Sam Matthews

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

Green Party

TD Malcolm Noonan, Green Party

A local TD has added his voice to those calling for Kilkeny's St Patrick's Day parade to not proceed next Tuesday.

Green Party TD Malcolm Noonan, who is a former chair of the festival in Kilkenny, is of the view the event should be postponed 'until Covid-19 has been brought under control'.

"I think that the government should make a call on it sooner rather than later in order to give organisers an opportunity to cancel professional performers, health and safety personnel and voluntary groups who are busy preparing floats," he told the Kilkenny People.

"While it's disappointing, it's important that we act collectively and decisively to contain and minimise risk to public health."

However, the Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council has said as things stand it will proceed, but HSE expert advice will be heeded in relation to festivities. Cllr Peter 'Chap' Cleere says he also still intends to take part in the traditional trip to New York next week unless advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs is contrary to this.

"We should be guided by [expert advice] and we have to abide it," he said.

"What about all the GAA and soccer matches that will be on? Where do you draw the line? Obviously it is a health issue, but parades are important to the local economy - to shops, pubs, businesses."

Regarding colleagues who have called for the parade to be called off in recent days, Cllr Cleere said that with respect they were not health experts, and neither was he.

"I would leave it up to the health experts. I am not qualified to make that decision, but if the chief medical officer of the HSE says that, we will take that advice," he said.

"It is important for me that people stay calm. Yes, it is an issue, but we have to live as well. All we can do - and I ask everyone - is to follow whatever the expert advice is."

Meanwhile, the annual New York trip traditionally sees the cathaoirleach travel along with one or two council officials. Meetings take place involving groups such as the IDA and tourism bodies.

"As of now, it is scheduled and going ahead," said Cllr Cleere.

"But if the Department of Foreign Affairs or HSE says otherwise, we will be guided by that."

The council's Corporate Policy Group (CPG) is due to meet later today, and an update on the matter may be forthcoming.