Despite months of preparation, the St Patrick's Festival falls foul to the foot and mouth crisis.

Due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom, social and cultural events in Ireland are being cancelled or postponed. The £1.3 million St Patrick's Festival, the biggest street party of the year is cancelled, but organisers are hoping to transfer the event to the early summer.

For theatre companies like Down to Earth, St Patrick's Day is the focus of their year. Shane O'Doherty says the company gets a large number of bookings from the television coverage it receives at the St Patrick’s Day parade.

For the rest of the summer then we’re kept going, this year it’s not going to happen like that.

St Patrick's Festival attracts drawing hundreds and thousands of visitors to Dublin. Many of those now will not come. General Manager of Buswells Hotel Paul Gallagher is expecting the worst but it is too soon to know how bad the level of cancellation will be.

The chief executive of the St Patrick's Festival Maria Moynihan says the cancellation of the March event is a financial blow, but really

The main cost is in people’s disappointment.

She insists the event is postponed not cancelled and is working on finding an alternative set of dates to hold the four-day celebrations.

Effectively we’re a party waiting to happen right now because all of the pieces are in place and that people can use us as a means to celebrate, we can be the light at the end of the tunnel.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 March 2001. The reporter is Brian Dobson.