The announcement that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hoboken, NJ will not go ahead is an early example of battles that will be fought over parade issues in the coming weeks.
Hoboken's mayor, Dawn Zimmer, has adopted an uncompromising stance after major trouble at the parade in the city just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
One can sympathize with the mayor as thousands of New York parade-goers were streaming across the river and using the event as an opportunity to get drunk and disorderly.
But the mayor has gone too far in some of her statements, drawing cries of racism from Irish groups in New Jersey.
It is not racism to want to defend your community from excessive celebrations, but the inability of Zimmer to sit down with the parade committee in the New Jersey town surely shows that she lacks basic skills of diplomacy.
Instead, we will likely have that dreadful invention called Lepre-Con where thousands of young people just go out and get inebriated anyway.
Years back the annual parade in Manhattan had a huge problem with public drunkenness. Police then implemented an effective, major crackdown on the problem.
Parade organizers in Hoboken need to replicate that policy in order to ensure that the celebration of Irish identity there has a future.
Speaking of Manhattan, we are only a few weeks away from the “will he or won’t he” decision from new Mayor Bill de Blasio. Will or won't he take part in the march up Fifth Avenue, given that it continues to bar gay groups marching behind their own banners.
Mayor Bloomberg compromised by first walking in the Queens parade organized by gay leaders that precedes the Manhattan march.
It has proven to be an equitable solution, even if it means that the long festering issue of whether gays should march in the Manhattan parade gets glossed over every year.
In South Boston gay groups have already announced that they will be making a major effort to take part in the parade there, citing new mayor Martin Walsh. They hope he will step in on their behalf.
The obvious solution to all these problems is civil discourse and agreed outcomes.
We could be talking about the parade season in Northern Ireland and the same problems that arise there.
De Blasio had little organized Irish support during his run for mayor and is hardly beholden to the community where he a veritable stranger.
His wife, a former gay activist and declared lesbian, may have considerable influence on him when it comes to the parade issue.
Whatever his decision, the hoary old chestnut of parades and the right to march needs to be settled.
The opportunity is there in this new era of Pope Francis, who has made it clear he prizes conciliation as opposed to confrontation when it comes to these issues.
The parade wars have been going on for a long time now and, as this week’s headlines from Hoboken show, they have not gone away you know.
It is high time they did and that dialogue replaced dissonance.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned