Sinn Fein councillor claims Belfast's St Patrick's Day celebrations were 'pretty flat'

Celebrations at St Patrick's Day Belfast.
Celebrations returned to Belfast in 2022 for first time since the pandemic began. Credit: Pacemaker

By Michael Kenwood, local democracy reporter

Belfast's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in 2022 have been branded "flat" by a Sinn Féin councillor.

The parades and festivities made a long awaited return in February for the first time since the pandemic.

But some Belfast City Councillors criticised the celebrations - saying they were "too short" and City Hall "could have done more."

The debate came at the council’s most recent meeting of its City Growth and Regeneration Committee, where the strategy for next year’s celebration was agreed.Sinn Féin Councillor Conor Maskey told the committee: “The parade had huge numbers but for me felt pretty flat.”

He said at one stage he felt “there was no incentive to stay,” and “it was easier just to go.”

He added: “We can get it right the next time, with a better lead-in time, more community involvement, more pageantry. What I was able to see wasn’t bad at all, I just felt there wasn’t enough of it.

“The other thing I witnessed was the concert, and I thought it was fantastic, it had the best family atmosphere that I’ve experienced in a concert on St Patrick’s Day in the town. No messing, everything was based around the family, in fun, with street art and brilliant music.”

He added: “But I just hope we can get it right now.”

Green Councillor Malachai O’Hara said: “There is scope for how we put investment into that particular element of it. It was over after a short enough period – I think we could have done more, and there needs to be a conversation.”

A council officer told the committee: “At the parade, we had a couple of issues. As soon as it started, it rained. It was very successful in terms of participants and the audience numbers, but are going to have to scale it up, and change the route of the parade, the size of the parade, and exactly how we manage that logistically.

“It was hard to manage given the size of the audience and the length of the parade.”

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