The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which marched in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade this year for the first time, is undecided as to whether it will participate in the 2015 event.
This is because Martin Galvin, a New York attorney and one time ally of Sinn Fein before he broke ranks with the party over the Good Friday Agreement, will be honored as one of 13 aides to Grand Marshal Cardinal Timothy Dolan next March. The parade will also feature an LGBT marching contingent for the first time, but Unionist critics are outraged at the possibility that a PSNI contingent may march behind Galvin, who as one of the aides will help kick off New York’s most famous celebration of Irishness.
Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party told the “Belfast Telegraph” that PSNI participation was “shameful enough” this year, but that adding Galvin into the mix for 2015 is 'even worse.
“It was shameful enough that the PSNI participated in this year’s event, but to march behind a man who is so extreme that he thinks Sinn Fein and the IRA sold out would be unforgivable,” said Allister, who added that he would reach out to PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to make sure that “no police officers are engaged in the unseemly activity of parading behind Martin Galvin.”
A police spokesperson told the “Belfast Telegraph” that the force has yet to decide on whether to travel to New York for next year’s march.
Galvin, 64, was banned from the North in 1984 and once arrested alongside Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness for protesting British rule. He was the most prominent supporter of the U.S.-based Republican support group Irish Northern Aid before it disbanded around the time of the Good Friday Agreement.
In an opinion piece for IrishCentral earlier this month, Galvin said that he eschews a return to violence in the North.
“It is categorically untrue that I support armed actions today,” he wrote.
“I do not understand why my presence as one of the aides to Cardinal Dolan should cause any controversy. Indeed it would only be controversial if we forgot there will be six counties represented in this parade who are still denied freedom in Ireland!”