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San Francisco an example of what New York Irish could achieve

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If you want to know the difference between the New York and San Francisco St. Patrick’s Parades ask yourself two questions:

Which parade is likely to feature a Facebook float in the 2015 parade?

Also which gay organization, one in San Francisco or the one in New York issued the following statement before the 2014 parade? 

“Pride Board President Gary Virginia was elated with the invitation from the Irish organizers stating... “Identifying as LGBT crosses all races, cultures, and beliefs so what is the harm of inclusion? There are Irish LGBT people the world over, and non-Irish lovers of the holiday and parade.”

Yes, if you answered San Francisco then you are correct.

The fact is that corporate and Silicon Valley America loves the San Francisco parade while they are running like hounds from hell away from the New York one.

Don’t expect Ford to be back in New York or most of the major corporate sponsors.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, the Facebook float is considered very likely to happen. The United Irish Societies, which is headed by former top San Fran cop, Derry Philpott has established a fun, non partisan event which features over 100 floats and a good time by all.

At a time when Silicon Valley firms are under withering criticism for upending rents and skyrocketing housing costs the need for corporate good citizenship has never been more important. Irish folks here envisage a Google float too soon in the parade in the name of good citizenship.

It is how it should be and diversity and respect for different cultures is the key. Irish Consul General Philip Grant oversees a vast sweeping stretch of territory from Alaska in the far North to San Diego in the south. He says the diversity of the Irish out west is truly astonishing.

He points out there is a gay Irish mayor in Seattle, Ed Murray deeply proud of his roots, that his police chief is Kathleen O'Toole, that in Alaska there is a huge Irish strain led by the current governor Sean Parnell a distant relative of Charles Stewart Parnell.

He points out that the Irish became part of the power structure in California much quicker as there was no anti-Catholic discrimination on the level of the East Coast. There was an Irish-born governor of California, John Downey in 1860 many years before such powerful positions were open to Irish on the East Coast.

It is an amazing history. Many Irish came west in the fevered era of the gold rush. According to historian Jeffrey Burns quoted in Examiner.com, “By 1856, more than 6,000 foreign born Irish -- comprising 12 percent of the city’s population – had arrived in San Francisco, growing to over 30,000 by 1870. By 1880, foreign-born Irish and Americans of Irish descent accounted for 33 percent of the city’s population. Irish filled the ranks of the police and fire departments and provided a significant portion of the city’s civil service employees.”

The assimilation was also faster but the Irish like on the East Coast still retain huge links within the San Francisco Police Department and the Fire Department where the current chief is Joanne Hayes-White, daughter of an Irish emigrant.

Silicon Valley is expanding North marching on the citadel of San Francisco bringing a huge wave of Irish entrepreneurs too, chief among them Liam Casey of Cork and PCH International a billion dollar revenue company which employs 5,000 people worldwide.

But circling back to the parade, if there is ever an example of how inclusiveness pays off it is in the way the gay marchers issue was handled.

From Facebook in San Francisco to Face off in New York the difference in outlook is compelling. We need some California “live and let live” karma badly on this issue in NY.

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