Armagh to have two St Patrick's parades on different days as breakaway parade announced
IRELAND’S ecclesiastical capital is to have two competing St Patrick’s parades on different days after unionists and nationalists disagreed over the official event.
Community groups in Armagh have announced plans to stage a breakaway parade after the council decided to hold its parade on Saturday March 16.
The Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council event has been moved from March 17 after unionists voiced concerns about holding it on a Sunday.
West Armagh Consortium, based in a nationalist part of the city and representing 11 community groups, says it will hold a parade on the national saint’s day.
It means there will be four separate processions in the city within 24 hours to mark the patron saint’s feast.
Armagh is home to Catholic and Church of Ireland cathedrals both named after St Patrick.
The council-organised event usually attracts cross-community support although it is understood the majority of those who attend are from nationalist areas.
A loyalist march involving up to 50 bands will take place hours after the council procession.
Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band, which organises the annual event, says it expects up to 2,000 participants.
- Route map for both the council and loyalist band parades which will take place on Saturday, March 16
On the morning of St Patrick’s Day the Catholic and Church of Ireland archbishops will lead their congregations to the Shambles Yard area for a greeting, followed by music and a family event.
The West Armagh Consortium parade is expected to take place afterwards. Spokesman Stephen Fields said people in the area are annoyed by the council decision.
“There has been a remarkable sense of frustration in the local community and from further afield at the plausibility of there being no parade in Armagh on March 17, and we intend to make sure that is not the case and to do so in style,” he said.
A public meeting will be held in Armagh on Wednesday night to discuss the parade.
Sinn Féin councillor Garath Keating described the consortium’s proposal as “a hugely important and community-owned initiative”.
SDLP councillor Thomas O’Hanlon said he hopes “in the coming days people can unite around the event planned by the consortium”.
However, DUP councillor Freda Donnelly said holding the parade on a Saturday “would be the best day, as it is much more inclusive for everybody”.