'They can dance as long as they keep moving' - St Patrick's Day committee clarifies 'Irish dancing ban'
A St Patrick's Day committee has clarified a press release which said Irish dancers and gymnasts aren't allowed perform in this year's parade due to "health and safety concerns."
Anthony Lynch, chairperson of the Drogheda parade committee in Co Louth, said the word "ban" on dancers, which was used in media reports, was a "misunderstanding".
"Banned wasn't the right use of word, it was a misunderstanding. They're still allowed dance and perform as long as they keep moving," he told Independent.ie.
The Drogheda St Patrick's Day parade is one of the biggest in the country.
A press release issued about the parade quoted a committee member as saying: "Due to health and safety concerns, performance has been cut out along the parade route this year.
"The gardai have advised us that due to Health & Safety regulations, we cannot allow our dancers or gymnasts to perform as they march along the route.
"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."
However, Mr Lynch said the parade will continue to allow dancers to perform as it has done for "the last 33 years" - as long as they don't dance in the one spot.
"Marching groups must keep moving because we have four-year-olds marching and they're in uniforms and light dresses and if a group stops in the middle of the route, these little things are freezing, so the idea is for them to keep it moving and keep everybody happy."
He told the Drogheda Leader earlier this week: "The dancing led to long delays, with many people actually thinking the parade had finished before it had."
A garda spokeswoman said gardai have no role in who participates in St Patrick's Day parades.
"This is a matter solely for the organising committee.
"There is a comprehensive policing and security plan in place for every event we attend. When planning for events a number of factors are considered such as attendance figures, demographic of patrons, traffic management etc."