The Saint Patrick's Day parade in Longford will not take place after the army withdraw from the event over Sinn Féin involvement.

A St Patrick's Day parade has been held in Longford since 1974. Organisers of the 1984 parade, the Longford Chamber of Commerce, said the event promised to be the best ever with 18 bands and 100 floats.

The parade was to be lead by a local Army contingent and Minister for Defence Patrick Cooney who is a TD in the Longford Westmeath constituency, was to have been on the reviewing platform. The invitation to the Sinn Féin chairman of Longford County Council Michael Nevin to be on the reviewing stand led to the Army's withdrawal from the event.

The president of Longford Chamber of Commerce Pat Stenson said it was not their place to rescind Michael Nevin's invitation to join VIPs on the reviewing platform.

We are totally non-sectional, non-party in our activities.

The Army sought an undertaking from the chamber that there was no Sinn Féin participation or involvement in the parade, but the Chamber did not know who specifically they had in mind. The event could not go ahead without the Army because if it did, it would appear the Chamber was taking a stand against the wishes of a government department.

The event was expected to attract 30,000 people and locals are extremely unhappy that it was cancelled at such short notice.

I think the people responsible for it being cancelled, I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Children in particular are the ones who will miss the parade the most, with one girl saying,

It's not going to be the same without the parade.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 15 March 1984. The reporter is Reg Cullen.