Ed Koch not popular with many Irish during his career -- Late NY Mayor defended British role in North after Irish trip in 1988

Ed Koch celebrating St. Patrick's Day
Ed Koch celebrating St. Patrick's Day
I never had much time for Ed Koch, the mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989. The mayor died today.

He was a blusterer who early on in his career stopped listening and began pronouncing and never stopped.

I remember interviewing him and seeing that familiar politician’s fault where questions were answered with the same familiar soundbite, year after year.

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He was New York. Larger than life, for better and for worse, and often I felt the latter more than the former.
He was in power too long, somewhat like the current mayor Michael Bloomberg, and had become a poor imitation of himself by the time he stepped down.

On Irish issues he was captive to whomever he last spoke to.

Sure, he wore his big Irish sweater every St. Patrick’s Day and loved being photographed at the parade but at the height of the Northern Ireland "Troubles" he contributed very little to the American role.

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Indeed, his most famous faux pas as far as Irish Americans were concerned occurred in 1988 after he went on a five-day visit over there with his frequent bosom buddy John Cardinal O’Connor.

Here is how his trip was reported on AP:

“Mayor Edward Koch says Irish-Americans who ''beat up the British'' for their role in Northern Ireland are taking the easy way out" ran the headline.

The story ran “The mayor, back at City Hall on Tuesday, defended remarks he made in Dublin earlier in the day at the end of his five-day pilgrimage for peace in Ireland with Cardinal John O'Connor.”

In Dublin, Koch had praised the ''good attitude'' of the British, saying ''I do not believe that they deserve the castigation that any of us, myself included, have heaped upon them. I do not believe that the British are occupying forces.''

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Well that went down well in The Bronx and Flatbush and Koch never quite regained his equilibrium with the Irish as a result.

Hardly surprising.

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