Attorney Sean Downes, president of the Brehon Law Society.Brehon Law Society

The Lavender and Green Alliance isn’t the only new group taking part in this year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade: for the first time, the Brehon Law Society will also march behind its own banner.

The 200-plus member group had never applied to march in the parade in years past, and informal inquiries about possible participation were met with silence.

“To be honest, we wouldn’t have been comfortable marching because of the past policy of excluding LGBT groups,” attorney Sean Downes, president of the Brehons, told the Irish Voice.

“Collectively as a group, our members were opposed to the policy especially given our history. Our founders, Paul O’Dwyer and Frank Durkan, would be proud to hold our banner this year because they always stood for inclusivity and civil rights.”

Downes says the Brehons were more than happy to lodge a formal application to march in the 2016 parade, and were quickly notified by the new leadership with words of welcome.

“We’re happy to take part, and happy to have people join us,” says Downes.

The Brehons ordered a new banner for the occasion, and expect to have in the region of 50-plus marchers.

The group will host its annual dinner on Monday, March 14 at the Manhattan Club, with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams the guest speaker – provided he can leave Ireland given the uncertainty over forming a new government in the aftermath of last week’s general election.

The Brehons will also march, as they do every year, at the St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens on Sunday which is hosted by the Lavender and Green Alliance.

“We march every year in that parade because it welcomes everyone. Frank Durkan was a former grand marshal there,” Downes points out.

For information on the Brehon Law Society, visit