Senator Linda Dorcena Forry will become the first non Irish-American to host the famed South Boston St Patrick’s Day breakfast next year after City Councilor Bill Linehan agreed to relinquish hosting duties.
Bowing to public pressure, Linehan has ended his standoff with Dorcena Forry, allowing the Haitian-American from Dorchester to host the storied political roast.
Forry is married to Bill Forry an Irish American whose family publishes the Boston Irish Reporter and Forry has four children she describes as Irish/Haitian. She has also visited Ireland several times.
The Boston Globe reports that the pair have issued a joint statement, saying they have agreed to end their standoff and allow Dorcena Forry to lead the festivities.
She said: “It is evident there has been miscommunication surrounding this event. I look forward to the South Boston delegation playing a major role in the event as they have done in the past.”
Linehan had argued the breakfast should be hosted by a South Boston politician.
He said: “I look forward to working with Senator Forry on presenting the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast next year. I am confident that we can present a quality event that makes us all proud.”
The paper reports that the agreement follows mounting criticism of Linehan’s refusal to allow Dorcena Forry to host the event in a row that ‘touched a raw nerve from the halls of the State House to the walking paths of Castle Island’.
Some Boston Irish however are of the opinion that hosting duties should have remained within their neighbourhood.
Lifelong resident Helen Butler told the paper: “There’s something to be said for holding onto tradition. That breakfast is a South Boston tradition. Would it be Castle Island if you picked it up and moved it someplace else?”
The report adds that: “Historically, the breakfast has been hosted by the state senator from South Boston, a lineage stretching back to the 1940s that includes J. Joseph Moakley, William M. Bulger, and Stephen F. Lynch, the current US representative.
“The neighborhood’s grip on the state Senate seat was so strong that it came to be known as the ‘Southie seat’, even though it includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park.”
Forry, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, won the seat last May and assumed the victory earned her the right to host the breakfast, which draws many of the state’s political figures for a round of ‘busting chops and butchering Irish songs’.
However Linehan, who hosted the 2012 event, contended that he should stay on as emcee. He said: “It’s always been someone from South Boston, even if that person has not always been a state senator.”
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has welcomed the agreement. He said: “It will be different, but Boston is changing, South Boston is changing. Let’s have a change in leadership over there, and let’s have Linda Dorcena Forry be the mistress of ceremonies.”
Dorcena Forry said in the joint statement that she looks forward to being the host.
She added: “In the weeks and months to come, the South Boston delegation - myself included - will discuss the various ways that we can collectively make next year’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast a success.”
She has no plans however to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade that follows the breakfast because the parade continues to ban gay groups from marching.
The Boston Globe says that during her campaign for the Senate seat, Dorcena Forry supported the idea of dropping the prohibition, and said she will continue to boycott the parade until it is made inclusive to all.