Irish leader says he will march in New York St Patrick’s Day parade


Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is to reject calls from gay and lesbian groups to boycott the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York next month.

Ireland’s Gay And Lesbian Network has urged Kenny to stay away from the Manhattan parade in protest at the organisers’ refusal to allow gay rights banners.

But the Fine Gael leader has said he sees no reason to follow the lead of New York mayor Bill de Blasio and boycott the event.

Already de Blasio has announced that he will not take part in the world’s biggest St Patrick’s Day parade because of the organisers’ refusal to allow gay groups to display banners.

But Irish PM Kenny has told the Irish Independent newspaper that he has no qualms about marching in the parade on the day if he is in New York as part of an annual American trip that also includes visits to Washington and Boston.

He told the paper: “As I understand this from the organisers of the New York parade, they allow anyone to walk in the parade.

They don’t allow them to carry individual banners. It is my intention to be there in New York.”

Kenny hopes still hopes that Mayor de Blasio would attend the annual Irish reception on the morning of St Patrick’s Day but did not express a view on de Blasio’s reservations about the parade.

Having marched in last year’s parade, he added: “You should ask the mayor that question. I don’t speak for the mayor.”

Ireland’s Deputy PM Eamon Gilmore marched in the New York parade in 2011, just weeks after taking power.

Gilmore told the paper that he too is aware it is an issue and had discussed it with gay rights groups in New York at the time.

Labor Party leader Gilmore said: “They encouraged me to participate in it. Their view was this was an important Irish American event, that the Irish Government should participate in it.

“The groups asked that the Irish Government would support their own St Patrick’s Day parade, so junior minister Kathleen Lynch attended in 2012.”Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) has again called on the Irish Government not to take part in the New York parade.

GLEN director Tiernan Brady said: “Considering the lead shown by Bill de Blasio, we want them to follow that lead.

“This is about whether lesbian and gay Irish people and lesbian and gay Irish-Americans are entitled to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with other people. This is an exclusion of a part of Irish-American society.”