A St. Patrick’s Day parade in Enniskillen is “highly unlikely” next year unless Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) commits to providing £25,000 in funding, organisers have claimed.

Council minutes reveal that the volunteer Project St. Patrick committee, who organise the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Enniskillen, were “disillusioned” and seriously contemplated resigning in February when they learned that they have been allocated £16,500 for next year’s event, while Council-run events in Omagh will be funded to the tune of £23,500.

The £7,000 funding discrepancy was discussed during a meeting between Project St. Patrick and Council officials earlier this year. A subsequent letter from Project St. Patrick to the Council’s Director of Regeneration and Community, Robert Gibson says that the shortfall “leaves the Enniskillen festival at a big disadvantage.”

Two other funding concerns have been raised by Project St. Patrick: an extra £4,000 in funding that was received from FODC last year when the group was unsuccessful in securing an Arts Council funding has not been allocated this year; and donations from local businesses which used to total around £7,000 have been capped at £2,000 since Enniskillen became a Business Improvement District last year. 
The figure of £25,000 is the amount required to produce an event comparable to the past two years. “As you can no doubt imagine, the Project Saint Patrick voluntary committee, who have been so generous with their time and effort over the years, are in need of some form of reassurance that this minimum level of funding [of £25,000] can be provided for 2019 and into the future,” said the letter from the parade organisers.
“Because of the funding shortfall this year compared to last and the Enniskillen-Omagh disparity, the committee as a whole were disillusioned and seriously contemplating resigning … There is an urgency required regarding a decision, as we need to make decisions regarding the near/long term future of our committee,” the letter concluded.
A paper prepared for Councillors  states: “In the view of the organisers, a total subvention from the Council and other sources of £25k is necessary. Failure to secure this as a baseline in a Service Level Agreement from FODC would make a Project St. Patrick delivered 2019 Festival and Parade highly unlikely.”
It added: “The Project St. Patrick committee remains ambitious and wants the event to grow and develop. Grant aid and fundraising can be targeted at this purpose if the financial requirement for core delivery is secured. Further Project St Patrick no longer has the services of a fundraiser who was very instrumental in attracting funding from traders and small businesses.”
The paper outlines that the Council’s total budget allocation for St. Patrick’s Day events in 2019 is £39,500. Increasing the Council’s commitment to Enniskillen from £16,500 to £25,000  would require a total budget of £50,000, the report states.
Council officials have recommended that the £10,500 gap can be closed through: “Approaching BID on behalf of Project St Patrick to establish an appropriate level of support for the 2019 celebrations and an early commitment; and, where appropriate, redeploying any in-year under-spends in relevant budgets, for example, the Good Relations, Community Festivals Fund or the Arts budget.”
The decision will be ratified at the next full meeting of FODC.