‘Extensive’ policing plan for event expected to be similar to pre-pandemic years
An Garda Síochána has said an “extensive” policing plan will be in place in Dublin city centre for St Patrick’s Day, with festival organisers promising the “biggest and brightest” parade to date.
As many as 400,000 people are expected in Dublin city on Thursday for the first St Patrick’s Day parade since the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The parade is to begin at noon at Parnell Square, coming down O’Connell Street, moving around College Green and Dame Street, before looping down Lord Edward Street and finishing on Kevin Street at around 2pm.
Commenting on the recent increase in Covid-19 cases, Aileen Galvin, the festival’s head of public engagement, appealed for anyone with symptoms of the virus to stay at home. “If you’re not feeling well don’t come please,” she said.
“There are no restrictions at the moment … but we do obviously encourage people to be careful and take their own personal precautions. If anybody wants to wear a mask of course they should wear a mask,” she said.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland said people would be in large crowds along the parade route, “so if they want to wear a mask please do, it keeps everybody and themselves safe”.
Dublin city centre off-licences have been asked not to sell alcohol until 4pm, to prevent crowds drinking on the streets. Restaurants and pubs have also been asked to ensure any alcohol sold was consumed on the premises.
Anne Marie Cagney, assistant Garda Commissioner for the Dublin Metropolitan Region, said there were “extensive policing plans” in place for St Patrick’s Day and the long bank holiday weekend.
“There will be large crowds in Dublin right throughout the weekend and An Garda Síochána will be enforcing restrictions on alcohol in public realms,” she said.
Gardaí will be managing the flow of people in and out of Temple Bar, manning barriers around the area, to prevent any “crush scenarios” in the popular tourist spot.
There will be more than 650 gardaí working across Dublin city for St Patrick’s Day, which was “on par” with numbers on duty during pre-Covid years, the assistant commissioner said.
Store Street chief superintendent Patrick McMenamin said there would be a “zero tolerance approach” to on-street drinking.
Gardaí would be enforcing legislation prohibiting on-street drinking over the St Patrick’s Day festival period, he said.
Speaking at an event in the Mansion House, Ms Galvin said the parade would be “the biggest, the brightest, the most creative we’ve ever had”.
Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes Kellie Harrington and Ellen Keane will be the grand marshals of the parade. Irish-American actor John C Reilly, who starred in Step Brothers, will be the international guest of honour.
There will also be a “festival quarter” set up in Collins Barracks with music and talks taking place from Wednesday to Sunday.
The festival organisers estimated that “possibly up to 400,000” people would be in Dublin for the parade, “from home and from across the country, and also internationally”, Ms Galvin said.
The parade will lead out with a “show of solidarity” with the people of Ukraine, Ms Galvin said. She cautioned people planning to bring step ladders to watch the parade, that they would be confiscated due to safety risks.
While there was always a big contingent of tourists expected to attend, she encouraged Irish people to come into Dublin city to enjoy the day. “It’s as much for us as it is international, the paddywhackery is gone, this is really about us right now … celebrating,” she said.