Mid Ulster District Council is to investigate the possibility of holding digital events to mark the Twelfth of July this year.
The issue was raised by Ulster Unionist group leader, Councillor Walter Cuddy, at a meeting of Council’s development committee during a discussion of Council’s corporate events calendar.
The paper recommends Council does not plan “any events that would encourage people to come together in a single location until such time as the restrictions allow”.
The paper notes, officers will be investigating the possibility of Halloween or Christmas events but these will be subject to Covid-19 restrictions at the time.
Councillor Cuddy said he would be interested to see how Council’s plans for St Patrick’s Day work in practice.
This year, Council will be live streaming events from the Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House on St Patrick’s Day afternoon before streaming a Malachi Cush concert from the Burnavon Theatre in the evening.
“We are having a St Patrick’s Day event and I think it sounds like a really good idea,” said Cllr Cuddy. “To use the technology in this way is a good idea and it will be interesting to see how it works.
“At least it is marking the day, we don’t know how long restrictions will be in place. I just want to ask what sort of budget are we using for this event and can we have something similar done on other days throughout the summer?
“I’m thinking, from my background in the Orange Order, with regards to the Twelfth of July festival in particular.
“The idea around St Patrick’s Day is a good one and it would be great to see how we could develop it around the Twelfth as well.”
Council’s head of arts and culture, Tony McCance, said the St Patrick’s Day events are the types of events that could be transferred to mark other occasions as well.
“In terms of transferability it can certainly be done,” said Mr McCance.
“In terms of the cost implications, the cost is significantly less than events held at any other given time.
“Although, there is the cost implication of the professional sound and lighting equipment that needs to be put into the event to stage it in such a way it would attract a viewing audience online.”
Councillor Cuddy said he would be very interested to find out how the St Patrick’s Day events are received by the district’s residents and urged Council to “improvise” this year.
“We have to improvise in situations like this and because of social distancing, events that we have held in the past cannot be run because of the restrictions on numbers.
“It is good to see we are looking at it and hopefully we can learn from this first event for further events in the summer.”