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Relief for traders as St Patrick's Day plans go marching on

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Brian O'Connell from O'Connell's Pub on Bachelors Walk near O'Connell Bridge.

Brian O'Connell from O'Connell's Pub on Bachelors Walk near O'Connell Bridge.

Paddywagon’s Craig McNeill

Paddywagon’s Craig McNeill

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Brian O'Connell from O'Connell's Pub on Bachelors Walk near O'Connell Bridge.

Firms that normally celebrate St Patrick's Day with year-topping profits are breathing a sigh of relief that - for now - the parades will march on.

Managers of retail outlets near parade routes say they stood to lose half their sales if St Patrick's Day events were cancelled due to the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus.

Last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "We are not recommending at this stage that any major events be cancelled but that, of course, will be kept under review."

For many publicans, that final verdict will determine whether they experience their busiest long weekend or must back out of deals on extra kegs, casual staff and musicians.

Along O'Connell Street, where the parade perennially attracts half a million visitors, Dave Haddock is doing brisk trade - selling bandanas anti-viral masks.

His stall beside Eason's has been in the family for 46 years. St Patrick's means a €3,000 investment in green hats and trinkets.

Mr Haddock says tourist numbers are down but he's confident of selling most of his stock if the parade happens.

"If it doesn't, I'm fecked," he said.

Stride

Across the road, one of Paddywagon's three retail outlets is counting the cost of lower tourist numbers from the US and China.

"Normally, two weeks before St Patrick's Day is when we start getting busy. This time we still haven't hit our stride yet," said retail manager Craig McNeill.

"In normal years our St Patrick's merchandise sells out quickly. Not this year."

This may be just as well - 80pc of the stock is imported from China. It's been a struggle to build reserves of some items for the surge.

He estimates that Paddywagon would lose €17,000 without the parade.

On Bachelor's Walk, the O'Connell Bar hasn't had a full house since Welsh rugby fans came to town.

"The Six Nations and Patrick's roll in together," said manager Brian O'Connell.

"You normally wouldn't get a seat here on Patrick's Day. But this year, I'm afraid you might."