Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted that he is going to take part in the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York despite the parade’s ban on pro-gay rights expressions. While New York’s recently-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio has revealed that he won’t be marching in the parade saying on Tuesday,
“I will be participating in a number of other events to honour the Irish heritage of this city and the contribution of Irish-Americans, but I simply disagree with the organisers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” he said.
Meanwhile Kenny said at a media conference that he would take part in the New York, Boston and Washington DC events.
“It is my intention to do three parades myself… Washington, Boston and New York. As I understand it from the organisers of the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade, they allow anybody to walk in the parade but they don’t allow them to carry individual banners. So it’s my intention to be there in New York.”, he said.
Meanwhile Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that Minister of State Kathleen Lynch went to the the St. Pat’s for All Parade organised by the LGBT community on behalf of the Irish government in 2012.
The parade’s organisers have said that gays and lesbians are welcome to march but that public displays celebrating being gay would detract from the commemoration of St Patrick and Irish heritage.
A group of gay rights activists and city officials tried to encourage Mr De Blasio to stop public workers such as police officers and firefighters in their city uniforms, but the mayor rejected this idea saying,
“Uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right.”
William Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League, has said in a statement that he was “delighted” that Mayor de Blasio has decided not to go to the parade.
“I do not want to march with a public official who does not want to be associated with Irish Catholics”, he said.
Mr de Blasio has previously took part in the St Pat’s for All parade in Queens, New York which is an inclusive, multicultural parade started by the gay and lesbian community over a decade ago.
The Taoiseach is thought to be set to meet President Barack Obama on Friday, March the 14th and to go to the St Patrick’s Day lunch hosted by the Speaker of the House John Boehner in the US Capitol on the same day.
Gilmore claimed that the LGBT community urged him to take part in the parade when he went in March 2011.
“The New York Mayor, as I understand it, has said that this is personal decision. He’s absolutely entitled to that. The parade is an important event on St Patrick’s Day, it’s a major Irish-American event in New York. I’ve already consulted with the LGBT organisations in New York about our participation in the parade and what they have told me is that they wish the Irish government to participate in the parade.”
However, this claim was refuted by a spokesperson for the LGBT community.
Mr De Blasio I salute you.