IRISH Queers, the Irish American gay rights group that protests the ongoing exclusion of Irish gay groups from the main Fifth Avenue St. Patrick's Day Parade, in New York have called on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to clarify her position regarding the parade.Charging Quinn with wooing both sides of the St. Patrick's Day parade issue - both Irish gay activists, and conservative and the church-linked Irish organizations who oppose them - the Irish Queers letter to Quinn requested that she provide meaningful support to "progressive sectors" of the Irish community that oppose the religious right, and homophobia.To date, the organization claims, Quinn has not replied to Irish Queers' recent letters with any commitments of support, nor any answers to their questions about her activities in the Irish American community - although on Gay USA, a national cable television program, she claimed last week that she didn't know she was joining Parade Committee Chair-man John Dunleavy when they posed together recently at the annual dinner hosted by the United Irish Counties.John Frances Mulligan, a spokesperson for Irish Queers told the Irish Voice, "We reached out to the speaker over a week ago and she has not responded. Before she was even in the City Council she was arrested with ILGO (Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization) at the protests. "We do have a long history and the point of contention is that she has been absent lately. We're asking her what her commitment is."Asked if he accepted that she might be working on gay and lesbian inclusively at the parade in a manner that might depart from the methods used by Irish Queers, but that shared the group's aims, Mulligan replied, "It's a dialogue. She hasn't been in communication with us and we hope she will be. "I think its great she's one of the grand marshals of the Sunnyside-Woodside St. Patrick's Day Parade coming up this weekend. We simply want to hear from her."Quinn, who is openly lesbian, has not marched in the Fifth Avenue parade since she was elected speaker.Meanwhile, the Irish Queers group plans to once again protest the Fifth Avenue parade, which explicitly excludes Irish gay and lesbian groups from participating. This year's protest will take place at 57th Street and 5th Avenue, beginning at 11 a.m. on March 17.
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