Let's start with the bright side of 2015. It appears the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade has been pushed firmly into the 21st century with new leadership and the inclusion of an Irish gay group in the line of march for the first time next year.
Into the breach stepped Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University and the chairman of the board that runs the parade. Lahey finally drew a line in the sand and brokered a compromise for this year’s march which resulted in the inclusion of a gay group for the first time, OUT@NBCUniversal, the LGBT group of the march’s broadcast network, NBC.
Most thought that would be the end of the issue, but the long-time chairman of the board’s Parade Committee, John Dunleavy, despite Cardinal Dolan’s approval of this year’s compromise, refused once again to step into the 21st century and understand how much he was damaging the Irish with anti-gay marching group stance.
In an interview on the parade’s Facebook page in April, Dunleavy made his intentions to exclude gay groups in 2016 clear. The board was left with no choice but to act, and that they did in June with the election of Lahey as board chairman, and demotion of Dunleavy’s role as the public spokesperson and policy maker for the parade.
Dunleavy and his allies failed to understand that the St. Patrick's Day parade belongs to every Irish person, and there can be no exclusion in this era of anti-discrimination which saw the Irish public vote to legalize gay marriage via referendum in May.
The New York Attorney General’s office is now investigating parade finances under Dunleavy’s watch. It’s an inglorious and unfortunate end to Dunleavy’s career as parade leader.
Suffice to say we are very proud at the Irish Voice to have provided the critical parade coverage, written by senior editor Debbie McGoldrick, without which the new changes in the parade leadership might never have come to pass.
The other piece of good news in 2015 was Northern Ireland, where yet another major crisis was averted at the last moment and the Assembly and power sharing agreement still remain intact.
It was great work on all sides that maintained the situation in the end. But Irish America for one has seen too many crises in the peace process to rest easy.
A long period of bedding down and cooperation would do wonders for a process that has proven incredibly elastic but gives no guarantee that it will not break if pressure is continued.
Something that did break was the hope, dreams and desire of millions to bring about immigration reform in the U.S. It is now clear that, for the time being, the best chance is behind us and that former House Speaker John Boehner could have passed the House version of a promising Senate bill if he had the cojones. Instead he retired after a futile speakership brought down by those he kowtowed to incessantly, and President Obama’s executive orders of last year remain mired in the courts.
With Donald Trump and his brass band running around bellowing about immigrant rapists and murderers, it seems we will be looking at 2017 before immigration reform will come up again.
Notice that Trump doesn't successful immigrants and children of immigrants such as Steve Jobs, son of a Syrian immigrant, without whom we would not have Apple. Sergey Brin of Russia created Google. In today’s climate both would have been pegged as terrorists or commies by Trump no doubt.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.