There appears to be a concerted attempt to remove the “England Get Out of Ireland” banners from the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
That campaign has quietly simmered away in the background while the issue of an Irish LGBT marching group in the parade was finally being resolved. Now there are efforts to bring it center stage.
It began with a Belfast Telegraph editorial two years back when a delegation from the Northern Irish police force, the PSNI, was marching.
The Telegraph decried the presence of the banners as a “time warp” and entirely unsuitable for the modern parade.
One wishes they had similar negative comments for the “kick the Pope” bands and anti-Catholic bonfires on the eve of July 12 when Taigs are burnt in effigy, but that’s another story.
Since then, various luminaries have quietly suggested dropping the banners from the New York parade as they are seen as sectarian and ill-fitting.
But compared to the Unionists' and Loyalists' dreadful behavior, the Irish banners in the St. Patrick’s Day parade are mild indeed, and an important reminder of how generations before felt about the occupation of their country.
This year there have been strong entreaties to convince parade marchers and Irish American leaders to drop the banner.
The notion of anything tribal in the parade clearly offends some, but it is a celebration of heritage created by the Irish who were driven off the land to America.
The banners may be a simple response to that, and they reflect the wishes of millions that all of Ireland be united.
There seems little likelihood that in a year which marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, the main of of which was indeed to get the British out of Ireland, that the banners will be lowered.
Too many Irish over the centuries went through too much in order to be able to make their sentiments clear.
'England Get Out of Ireland' could be phrased more artfully, perhaps, but it is an honest rendition of the way millions of Irish Americans feel. The banners have been part of the parade for years and should stay.