A senior Irish Minister is to boycott New York’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in protest at its attitude to gay and lesbian marchers.
Minister for Social Protection and Labour deputy leader Joan Burton told a Dublin radio station that she will not be attending the parade when she is in the city for the annual festivities.
And gay Fine Gael deputy Jerry Buttimer has called on Irish PM Enda Kenny to follow her lead.
The Irish Times reports that Burton’s decision to turn down the invite to attend the Fifth Avenue parade comes after New York mayor Bill de Blasio said he would boycott the parade because it excluded recognition to gay and lesbian groups.
Labor Party Minister Burton will be in New York on government business at the same time as Kenny but will not attend the parade, two years after she last marched in the city.
She said, “I was in New York two years ago, like other ministers in New York, I met the Irish Gay and Lesbian community there.
“My understanding two years ago was that there were very positive moves to make the parades much more inclusive, which is what I’d like to see because it is a fun day for people in New York and the Irish gay and lesbian community there want to be represented as a significant Irish group and I support that.
“In the context of the mayor saying that until the parade is more inclusive, he is standing aside from it. I advised the Tanaiste (deputy PM) that if I went to New York, unless that progress was forthcoming, I wouldn’t be going.”
Cork deputy Buttimer revealed last week that he had been ‘beaten, spat at, chased, harassed, and mocked’ for being gay.
He told the Irish Times that PM Kenny should, at the very least, push for a change of policy in the parade.
Buttimer also stated that he would prefer if no government minister took part.
He said, “I would prefer if no member of the government took part in the parade in New York.
“There comes a time when you have to say to the organizers we have had enough of this discrimination and division.
“In an ideal world, no Taoiseach (PM) or no minister should march in the parade. For me the big issue, why is the ban still there, in a progressive city like New York?
“As a consequence of his going this year, he should discuss a change in policy with the organizers.”