The ongoing disputes surrounding the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade prompted Irish Consul General Barbara Jones to convene a recent meeting between parade board Chairman Dr. John Lahey and the leaders of the parade affiliate organizations, John Manning and Dennis Grogan, in an effort to reach a compromise for next year’s march, multiple sources told the Irish Voice.
The meeting did not result in any new agreements going forward, and Jones is reportedly seeking to bring the sides again together after the Thanksgiving break.
In other parade developments, Dunleavy and his attorney Francis Young filed an amended complaint in Bronx Supreme Court last week that names not only Lahey but also board member Frank Comerford, an executive at NBC and grand marshal of the parade in 2012.
Dunleavy’s suit charges that Lahey and Comerford “orchestrated an election which was marred by various improprieties and fraudulent conduct, to remove Mr. Dunleavy as chairman while he was out of the country in order to protect their personal and professional interests in maintaining a television broadcast with NBC.”
The suit is based in large part upon Dunleavy’s contention that WPIX was prepared to broadcast the 2016 parade, free of charge, as opposed to the yearly $400,000 fee that the parade pays WNBC and an outside production company.
After this year’s march, which featured for the first time a gay marching group, [email protected], Dunleavy began offering parade broadcast rights to other networks, and claimed to have struck a free deal with WPIX. Dunleavy has been a years-long steadfast opponent of having a gay marching group in the parade, and was angered that WNBC was not only part of the 2015 compromise that allowed for a gay group, but also devoted significant on-air time to [email protected]
A highly placed network source at WPIX told the Irish Voice in September that while there was contact between Dunleavy and WPIX station managers, the network never offered to broadcast the 2016 parade and didn’t plan on doing so. The Irish Voice has learned that WPIX lawyers were due to meet on Tuesday with the litigators defending Lahey and Comerford, and that the network was “cooperating,” a source said.
Also, the team representing Lahey and Comerford have subpoenaed Carla Chadwick, an employee of Covenant House in New York who used to also serve as Dunleavy’s assistant until he was relieved of many of his duties after a parade board meeting in June. Chadwick, whose expenses were cited by the parade board’s auditors and are part of the board’s letter to the New York State Attorney General’s office (see story on Page 4), exchanged emails with WPIX earlier this year, and she will be asked to provide sworn testimony as to the nature of her dealings with the network. Chadwick has retained an attorney and has asked to adjourn her deposition.
Meanwhile, Dunleavy sent a letter to the parade’s affiliated organizations dated November 12, alerting delegates about a nomination of officers meeting he plans to hold on Monday, November 30, with full elections set for Wednesday, December 2. Both meetings are scheduled to be held at Antun’s in Queens Village.
The nominations are for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee which Dunleavy still chairs, albeit with reduced powers since June’s board meeting which was called “after several directors learned about some financial irregularities and possible misuse of parade finances,” Lahey said in a November 9 letter to affiliates.
Some recipients of Dunleavy’s letter calling for elections expressed confusion and wondered if his action was enforceable, given that a judge issued a temporary restraining order – at Dunleavy’s behest -- on a meeting that the full parade board was due to hold in October.
“We have no idea what’s going on,” one group leader told the Irish Voice on Monday.
“How can John Dunleavy hold elections now? There are many of us who are in the dark and are sick of all this. All we want to do is march in the parade.”
The Irish Voice has learned that the board will be sending a letter to the affiliates advising them that Dunleavy’s elections will be a nullity and will violate by-laws.
Members of the parade’s affiliated organizations hosted a well-attended meeting at Cathedral High School in Manhattan last Wednesday night which was scheduled right after a meeting of the United Irish Counties in the same location.
The meeting was chaired by AOH members Manning and Grogan, leaders of the affiliate groups which claim their say in the parade’s future would be greatly lessened by Lahey’s plans to eliminate the Parade and Celebration Committee in favor of a new Executive Committee. Supportive affiliate groups also claim that Lahey’s board wants to secularize the parade, a claim that the board has strongly denied.
The affiliate meeting “was productive and successful,” a message on the Change Saint Patrick’s NYC Facebook page said.
“Thx to @StPatsParadeNYC Frank McGrail (sic) for attending. At least someone from the Bd is listening,” the message added, referring to parade board member Frank McGreal.