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Shock axe halts St Patrick's parade

ONE of Dublin's most popular St Patrick's Day parades has been cancelled at the last minute.

The organisers of the parade in Skerries have backed out with less than two weeks to go after the surprise winding-up of their group.

Plans had been at an advanced stage, with local schools, sporting and other community groups looking forward to taking part.

But the organising group -- Skerries Chamber of Commerce -- this week dissolved because of what a spokesperson described as a "lack of interest".

The Mayor of Fingal has said he would make efforts to have the event resurrected, but voiced doubts that it can be saved for this year.

Mayor Ciaran Byrne, himself a Skerries councillor, said he was shocked to learn of the news yesterday.

"There appears to be nobody available to organise the parade", Cllr Byrne (Lab) said. "I'm very surprised that it has happened, especially at this stage of the year. It doesn't even appear to be an issue of money."

A former Skerries Chamber of Commerce committee member, Rita Nealon said the development was "unfortunate".

"The chamber itself has dissolved", she said. "It is really unfortunate but nobody was willing to give a hand to the chamber. There have only been three of us over the last few years. There has been a lack of interest from the businesses around the town."

Ms Nealon said the recession was not to blame, as the once-strong chamber had struggled to keep up membership even during the boom.