New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has formally apologized for the comments he made about “totally inebriated” Irish people hanging out of windows around St. Patrick’s Day. He was speaking during a book launch at the American Irish Historical Society in New York on Wednesday evening.
He had said that, living around the corner from the Society, he was used to seeing “people that are totally inebriated hanging out windows.”
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Bloomberg attempted to clarify his comments. He said he was referring to the party held by the Society on St. Patrick’s Day every year.
He said, “It’s traditional to hang out the window and yell and scream, and it’s all in good fun.”
However, he later issued a statement saying, “I apologize. I certainly did not mean to offend anybody.”
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On the night he said, “I know, that’s a stereotype of the Irish, but nevertheless, we Jews from around the corner think this.” Bloomberg’s own home is just a short distance from the Society’s Fifth Avenue building on the Upper East Side.
IrishCentral.com also reported that Bloomberg’s comments were made at the beginning of a strange speech. During his speech Bloomberg asked when the parade was being held, and adding that it was good it was always on the same day so he wouldn't confuse it with Columbus Day.
For many, Bloomberg’s comments came as a surprise due to the close relationship he has cultivated with the Irish American community. He is also a frequent visitor to Ireland and has advised on economic issues there.
John Dunleavy, the chairman of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, told “The New York Times” that Bloomberg’s comments were “a shock.”
He said, “In this day and age for the mayor of the city of New York to make comments like that is outrageous and totally uncalled for. He wouldn’t make a joke about any other ethnic group.”
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn released a statement which read, “Because of the mayor’s long history of support for the Irish community, his remarks last night were both surprising and inappropriate.” She added, though, that she was glad he issued an apology.
Christopher Cahill, the executive director of the Society, believes Bloomberg’s remarks were not meant to be “offensive or defamatory.” However, he said, “I’m certain there were many people in the audience who would have felt that they were not the remarks that would have been expected.”