There are now fears that the sequester, the mandated cutbacks by the US government in government services, due to start March 1st, could deeply affect St. Patrick’s Day activities both in America and Ireland.
Obamaadministration officials are warning about flight chaos if air traffic controllers are laid off starting on Friday as part of the $85 billion in sequestered cuts both parties agreed to in the absence of a budget deal.
The FAA has warned that all flights to and from major airports, including international flights, will be deeply affected if there are fewer traffic controllers.
"We're looking at all options to reduce costs. We're looking at a hiring freeze, at cutting contracts and travel and other items not related to day-to-day operations," FAA administrator Michael Huerta told the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee.
"But to reach the large figure we need to cut, we have little choice but to make up the rest through furloughing employees," Huerta said.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, told White House reporters the automatic cuts would “lead to delayed flights, shuttered control towers and irate passengers from coast to coast.”
The threatened cuts happen at the busiest time of the year for Irish activities with thousands coming from Ireland for the American festivities.
Tens of thousands of Irish Americans also fly overseas at this time to Ireland for St.Patrick’s Day and they could be deeply affected by the cuts.
Marching bands from the U.S. form a large part of the attraction at the New York parade as well as at parades across the U.S, and in Ireland. If they have difficulty scheduling flights they may not be able to participate.
Overseas flights will be deeply affected if there are major cuts at airports. Already all flights overseas by U.S. politicians on taxpayer-funded trips have been canceled.
The extent of the impact of the cuts has still to be revealed. The Obama administration and Republican leaders are due to meet later this week to see if a solution can be hammered out.
The administration wants balanced tax hikes and cuts while the GOP is resisting any more tax increases.