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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 16:57 GMT
Irish PM at St Patrick's Parade
Irish band plays at the parade
Thousands braved the rain and the wind to cheer on parade
Tens of thousands of people joined in the St Patrick's Day Parade through Manchester city centre on Sunday.

The Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern opened the 17th annual parade as it set off from the Irish World Heritage Centre at 1150 GMT.

Mr Ahern met members of the Irish community before moving on to Albert Square to address the crowd.

Organisers had said they expected up to 250, 000 people to attend but bad weather meant fewer turned up.

It was the first year that a serving Taoiseach had opened the St Patrick's Day Parade in Manchester.

Mile-long parade

Later, Mr. Ahern visited the Tourism Ireland Holiday Fair in Albert Square and addressed spectators shortly before the parade arrived there.

Crowds lined the streets of Manchester to welcome the mile-long parade, which was led by an Irish Wolfhound.

It included 10 marching bands and 50 floats, many carrying children.

As Greater Manchester Police began the clear-up operation, they thanked the public for their co-operation and patience.

Sun shines on St Patrick
17 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland


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