THE 2011 St Patrick’s Festival was another tremendous success and a tribute to the many organisers who got behind this cross-community events and parade.
The Downpatrick parade is one of the longest and most successful parades in Northern Ireland and this year over 60 entrants to the parade made this one of the most memorable. The 30,000 crowd that packed the streets in Downpatrick were delighted by the day’s events and they by all reports will definitely be back again next year.
Down News met visitors from the Unites States, Canada, South Africa, India and other far flung places. And closer to home visitors came from all over the North to enjoy the cross-community atmosphere.
There was some concern about the parade in respect to Sinn Fein Councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe breaking with tradition and deciding to fly the Irish flag. In the past this had been agreed by the local political parties that the tri-colour would not be flown and a red and white cross flag of St Patrick be flown instead. This resulted in the unionists withdrawing at the last minute before the parade started after final negotiations to resolve the issue.
It will continue as an issue now into the next business of Down District Council and will be addressed through the Good Relations Committee. A difficult problem, but as the parade itself has been a shining torch of cross-communty excellence over the years, and it will again hopefully now progress this issue and as part of the evolution of values and traditions in Northern Ireland, perhaps one day we will see St Patrick’s dream come true… genuine and meaningful peace and reconcilitaion.
But the bottom line was that on the big day people voted with their feet and St Patrick drew the crowds once again.
Down News has set up 5 slide shows of photographs in the Flickr Viewer at the bottom of the Homepage. Soon they will all be loaded up on to the Down News Facebook page. The first two slide shows are attached to this article. The rest will follow in another article.
More news later !!