Mayor Bill De Blasio mended fences with the Irish community at a packed breakfast reception at Gracie Mansion on St. Patrick’s Day morning but no one mentioned the “P”, word as in parade.
De Blasio has been off to a rocky start with the Irish as a New York Times headline this morning clearly showed.
De Blasio pulled the reception together at the last moment after leading figures in the Irish American community reached out and Irish leader Enda Kenny made himself available.
It was finger food, tea, soda bread and Irish coffees for the brave who came on a bitterly cold Monday morning to sample the new mayor’s first outreach to the community.
We milled around in different rooms until the mayor and Irish leader Enda Kenny showed up.
De Blasio is a towering figure, six foot five tall, and he spoke warmly of growing up in Massachusetts in the congressional district of John F. Kennedy and Tip O’Neill.
He spoke of the Irish contributions to New York, the strong immigrant tradition and their contributions especially that of the unions and working men and women.
It was a well tuned speech and he was followed by Irish leader Enda Kenny who spoke eloquently about what New York meant to Irish immigrants over the generations.
De Blasio has been under fire in the community for issues other than the parade, as diverse as seeking to end the horse carriage trade in Central Park, which employs mostly Irish drivers, refusing to march in Rockaways parade after he confused that storm-damaged communities event with a Staten Island parade that barred gays and appointing no liaison from the Irish American community.
All seemed forgotten though, in the green shamrock glow of Saint Patrick’s Day in the beautifully appointed mayor’s mansion.
But the parade issue continues to loom as De Blasio’s action has started off a chain of events including an economic boycott by sponsors of the parade which has caused a massive headache for the organizers.
But that was not on De Blasio’s horizon on this St. Patrick’s morning. Rather it was a well-overdue introduction to the Irish community on its most important of days. Afterwards he mingled with the crowd and posed for pictures.
Seems like he got most people at “hello”, the mystery is why it took so long.