Taoiseach Addresses St. Patrick’s Day Parade Controversy

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How it’s New York: The Irish head of government was commenting on a New York institution since 1762–The St. Patrick’s Day Parade–while in
MONDAY MARCH 17, 2014, NEW YORK, NY- An Taoiseach Enda Kenny attends a celebration of the 4th Annual Irish Arts Center Book Day at the Irish Arts Center (553 West 51st St, New York) with National Book Award Winner Colum McCann. End Kenney, Aidan Connolly, Pauline Turley. ©  Erin Baiano

MONDAY MARCH 17, 2014, NEW YORK, NY- An Taoiseach Enda Kenny attends a celebration of the 4th Annual Irish Arts Center Book Day at the Irish Arts Center (553 West 51st St, New York) with National Book Award Winner Colum McCann. End Kenney, Aidan Connolly, Pauline Turley. © Erin Baiano

another one, the Irish Arts Center, upon the unveiling of its forthcoming redevelopment plans.
How it’s Irish:  The definition of Irishness and what it can or cannot encompass is at the heart of the debate whether to allow people march down Fifth Ave. proclaiming themselves both Irish and LGBT.

There was what sounded like a derisive laugh in the Irish Arts Center on St. Patrick’s Day after Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had had “a very positive meeting” that morning with Mayor De Blasio—the first New York mayor in decades not to march in the city’s traditional parade, which forbids groups marching under gay banners.

 “It’s very important to work with him and not against him. This is a new administration.

“We should all embrace like lovers on Aran,”

“We should all embrace like lovers on Aran,”

the Taoiseach said, quoting a Seamus Heaney poem, and continuing to make a plea for “unity.”

Asked afterwards by the Irish Echo if Joan Burton Minister for Social Protection and Labour Party Deputy Leader was wrong to boycott the Fifth Ave. parade in which he marched, the Fine Gael leader said “She was in D.C.”

Minister Burton was on national radio Monday saying she declined to march in New York out of disappointment that the parade continues to not be “inclusive”.

The Taoiseach said,

“Look, 180,000 people marched in that parade today and about 20% of them are gay.

“I was proud to walk on Fifth Ave. today and acknowledge the contribution my countrymen have made to this country.”

Major corporate sponsors pulled out of this year’s parade, including Guinness on Sunday.

 

 

A version of this article appeared in The Irish Echo newspaper of March 19-25, 2014.

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