New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Chairman Dr. John Lahey and the board that he leads will not publicly comment on a lawsuit filed against Lahey by ousted Parade Committee member John Dunleavy last week, other than to say the charges are “baseless” and will eventually be proven as such.
Dunleavy filed suit against Lahey last Monday in New York State Supreme Court, and alleged among other things that Lahey and board member Francis Comerford, an executive at NBC Universal, worked together to ensure that parade coverage remained on WNBC at a financial cost to the parade, while Dunleavy negotiated a deal that would see WPIX air the March 17 event for free.
As reported in the Irish Voice in September, however, WPIX denied that an offer was ever made to Dunleavy to broadcast the march, and talks never got beyond a preliminary stage. Dunleavy approached WPIX because of his adamant opposition to openly gay groups marching in the parade, and was angered at NBC’s role in brokering a compromise that saw the network’s LGBT group OUT@NBCUniversal march this year.
Dunleavy, who was removed from parade decision making in June by a majority vote of NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc., the entity that runs the parade, claims Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Comerford plotted against him.
“It is believed that Mr. Lahey and Francis Comerford thought in order to keep the parade broadcast with NBC, that he would have to remove Mr. Dunleavy as chairman and director, as Mr. Dunleavy already had indicated his belief that the broadcast should be moved to WPIX, who would not charge the fees that NBC was charging,” the suit claims.
“Mr. Lahey’s actions have cost and damaged the corporation/committee in the amount of at least $175,000 in unnecessary expenses and this is a breach of Mr. Lahey’s fiduciary responsibilities,” the suit says. “It is believed that the actions of Mr. Lahey and Mr. Comerford were done more to benefit NBC, Mr. Comerford, Mr. Lahey and Quinnipiac University rather to benefit the parade and its supporters.”
At a parade board meeting in September, the WNBC contract to broadcast the parade was renewed, and a second gay group, the Lavender and Green Alliance, was given approval to join next year’s line of march.
Also at the meeting, it was revealed by a board audit that Dunleavy allegedly misappropriated thousands of dollars in parade funds for non-related parade business, such as trips and medical bills.
The board of NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc., says a parade spokesman, is confident that the lawsuit is without merit and that all board actions were taken legally.