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First St Patrick's Day parade for Liverpool

Exclusive: Irish take to streets of second city in spite of 'far right bigots'

Written by . Published on March 11th 2013.


First St Patrick's Day parade for Liverpool
 

FOLLOWING extensive uncertainty, it has been confirmed that Liverpool will, after all, have a St Patrick's Day parade this year. 

The decision to stage the event comes in the wake of confrontations and threats from far-right groups which wrecked previous efforts, claim organisers.

Sunday's parade will not go through the city centre, but instead pass through the Vauxhall area, historically a major centre for Irish settlement.

Liverpool has often been called the “real capital of Ireland” or the “33rd county”. With an estimated 50pc-75pc of its population having some Irish roots, it is nearer to Dublin (134 miles) than any other city in the Isles.

And while Orange Day parades have been held on every July 12 in living memory, March 17 hasn't seen any significant organised activity in decades.

Now campaigning group Liverpool Friends of Ireland (Cairde na hEireann), is hoping to change that.

“Unlike other cities across England, Scotland and Wales, Liverpool has never quite managed to reach the lofty heights of offering a St Patrick’s Day Parade for the city, which would go hand in hand with the thousands of people who aim for Liverpool city centre on the day to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint and take pride in their Irishness.

Joseph Larkin ParadeJim Larkin parade last year

“Indeed, Liverpool in recent years has become the city outside of Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, on a par with cities across the world such as Boston and New York.”

The group recently launched a report on how previous efforts to hold a parade fell up against attacks by far right and loyalist groups.

'Dignified'

"However," it says, "we feel that the time has finally come to put this issue to rest and for Liverpool to move on into the 21st century, and leave bigotry and intolerance behind."

"We are asking Irish and Non-Irish individuals, groups and organisations alike to join with us on St Patrick’s Day and stand against racism and bigotry by joining in with our parade through the city.

"This parade will be inclusive in manner, a celebration of Irishness and our community across Liverpool and Merseyside. This event will be dignified and peaceful in manner that befits the contribution that the Irish Community has made to the cultural, social and economic life of the City of Liverpool down the ages."

Last year, a parade to commemorate Liverpool-born Jim Larkin, founder of the Irish trade union movement, was met with a counter-demonstration by a far right group, the North West Infidels, 25 of whom were arrested.

However, Cairde na hEireann, which campaigns for the peaceful unification of Ireland, and against racism and fascism, says it has consulted with Merseyside Police in the lead up to Sunday's event.

438892An old poster from
Cairde na hEireann 
Liverpool Clubmoor Councillor James Noakes, who comes from a mixed-religion Irish family, says sectarianism here has been consigned to history.

"Those days are gone" he says. "Liverpool today is a city where people of every creed and colour are comfortable in their identity while recognising they live alongside other cultures."

Liverpool is twinned with Dublin and the link was strengthened last year when Irish Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan came to the Bluecoat and signed a cultural corridor agreement to strengthen ties.

Cllr Noakes says that the city's tradition of hospitality is a major draw for today's Irish settlers and "any effort to have a more high-profile celebration of St Patrick's Day would be supported by people of all religious traditions".

"St Patrick's Day is extensively celebrated in Liverpool, the bars are packed and St Michael's Irish Centre has a number of events on," he added. "Not forgetting that the city hosts one of the best Irish festivals in the country every October."

Joe Anderson And Jimmy DeenihanMayor Joe Anderson and Irish
Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan
Indeed, when the Republic's president, Michael D Higgins, visited Liverpool last year, the delegation from Irish Community Care Merseyside included both Catholics and Protestants with Irish connections, among them members of the Afro-Irish and Irish traveller communities.

Liverpool has had a history of its politics being influenced by Irish issues - it is the only place in Great Britain which ever elected an Irish nationalist MP (Thomas P O'Connor, who represented the Scotland Road area from 1885 to 1929), while the Protestant Party was long an influence in local politics.

According to local legend, St Patrick preached in Liverpool before setting out for Ireland in 432 - the site is said to have been where the HolCross church stood in Standish Street.

St Patrick is also patron saint of Nigeria, and Cllr Noakes feels there is potential for Liverpool's Nigerian community to be involved in the celebrations. 

St Patrick's Day Parade, Sunday, March 17, begins 11am at Silvester Street, L3. 

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12 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Sentimental SapMarch 11th 2013.

You've never had a St. Patrick's Day Parade? Dye the Mersey green, dance in the streets, and pass out olive-colored brew before 10:00 am.
Honestly, great music along the parade route.

Dublin StreetMarch 12th 2013.

Dye the river green? We're not Chicago.

St. Patrick's Day parades are more an American thing than Irish. Having said that I believe Liverpool used to have something on St. Patrick's Day in the 1950s up in the north end, but like Orange Day at the time it usually ended in sectarian brawling and mercifully it died out.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Sentimental SapMarch 13th 2013.

Excellent for knowing that, Mr. Street.

Sentimental SapMarch 13th 2013.

Plenty of brawling at ours, too.

London RoadMarch 12th 2013.

It would be nice if Liverpool had a proper St Patrick's day parade and not the horrible drunken brawling that you get from students. At least it is on a Sunday this time.

Africa O'YayMarch 12th 2013.

The patron saint of Nigeria is the Patrick saint of Nigeria

St. FormbyMarch 12th 2013.

St. George is the patron saint of Georgia, England, Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, as well as the cities of Genoa, Amersfoort, Beirut, Boto┼čani, Drobeta Turnu-Severin, Timi┼čoara, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Kragujevac, Kumanovo, Ljubljana, Pérouges, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Lviv, Barcelona, Moscow and Victoria, as well as of the Scout Movement and a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.

I take it then that the Council will be organising a St. George's Day parade as this saint is more inclusive?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Sentimental SapMarch 13th 2013.

Didn't even know I had two affiliations.

St. FormbyMarch 14th 2013.

That's all right, you can get ointment for them these days.

Dewi SantMarch 12th 2013.

Not so much as a peep of observance for St. David's Day less than two weeks ago, mind!

Iain ScottMarch 12th 2013.

Indeed Dewi and the St. Bandwagoneering again.

St. FormbyMarch 15th 2013.

Oh! Liverpool IS celebrating St. George's Day!
Hurrah!

(And St. Patrick most certainly DID NOT APPROVE of pleasure, music and singing AT ALL, let alone dancing, and drinking alcohol!)

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