The education ministry has been criticised for cancelling some of the October 28 Ochi Day parades due to expected bad weather even though most went ahead as planned.
The parades mark the Greek celebration of the refusal by prime minister Ioannis Metaxas to allow Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to invade Greece during WWII.
On Monday, the parades in Larnaca and Nicosia were cancelled by the education ministry following a yellow storm warning by the met office and the fact a 20-year-old hunter was struck by lightning on Sunday.
Spiros Antonellos, press representative of the ministry, said on Tuesday that they received information from the met office at 9.10am, and after extensive discussion, they informed parade organisers in all towns about the postponement by 10.10am.
“The parade was postponed for safety reasons and not simply because the participants would get wet. We should respect and abide by science and the met office,” he told Sigma on Tuesday.
Despite the yellow warning, the ministry faced a backlash from sections of the media, parents and teachers for cancelling the parade, on the basis that it is a matter of patriotic principle to celebrate the anniversary.
The head of the teachers’ association argued that the ministry’s announcement was wrong as it came late, and there were also parades not organised by the ministry.
The parades in Limassol, Paphos and Paralimni went ahead as planned, despite the ministry’s instructions. Representatives from the municipalities said that they judged the weather conditions were not serious enough to cancel the parade. They added that children themselves asked to participate.
Confusion prevailed in Nicosia since some students and their parents insisted on proceeding with the parade as the weather had sufficiently improved. However, most students did not participate.
Larnaca municipality followed the weather warning and the ministry’s directions.
In some towns, government representatives participated in the parades that took place.
“I am assuming that the announcement came in late and representatives were already there,” Antonellos argued.