A new slate of officers was elected at a meeting of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade affiliated organizations on Monday night, but the parade’s overseeing board of directors maintains the election is null and void because it was called in contradiction of one of the board’s by-laws.
The meeting at Antun’s in Queens was attended by some 200 members of the affiliated organizations to elect officers for the board’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee formerly headed by John Dunleavy, whose alleged misappropriation of parade funds during his tenure was reported to the New York State Attorney General’s office by the board of directors last month.
Sources told the Irish Voice (sister publication to IrishCentral) that Dunleavy was nominated from the floor on Monday night to once again serve as committee chairman, a post he has held for 22 years. The nomination was seconded but Dunleavy declined to go forward, telling supporters that, on the advice of his attorney, he is presently not in a position to defend himself against the allegations made against him, but that the time will come when he could speak his mind.
The affiliates unanimously nominated attorney John Tully to succeed Dunleavy as committee chairman. Tully, based in Breezy Point, is of counsel with the international firm Norton Rose Fulbright and is active in several Irish groups, including the AOH and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. Tully was named the 2014 Man of the Year by the Great Irish Fair in Brooklyn, and is a former member of the annual Irish Voice 'Irish Legal 100.' He was also an aide to the grand marshal for the 2014 New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Elected as committee vice chairman was Thomas Beirne. Cathy Miceli was re-elected to her post as recording secretary, with sources telling the Irish Voice that she agreed to run only if Tully and Beirne went forward as well.
Rosemary Lombard returns as treasurer; Dennis Grogan assumes the post of controller; corresponding secretary is Dennis McCarthy, and the sergeant at arms is Frank O’Keefe. The latter post was formerly held by Michael Cassels, who was removed in September by the board of directors after a forensic audit of parade finances discovered he double-billed the parade for $1,752.86 in expenses which he has paid back.
On Monday night Cassels was nominated to return to the sergeant at arms post, but he passed.
Sources told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that the parade’s board of directors, headed by chairman Dr. John Lahey, remains steadfast that the outcome of Monday’s elections are not enforceable. However, the board remains open to dialogue with the affiliated organizations.
“Once the litigation [filed by Dunleavy against Lahey] is resolved, the board is confident that it can reach a satisfactory accommodation with the affiliated organizations,” Pat Smith, the board’s spokesperson, told the Irish Voice. Smith added that applications to march in next year’s parade are coming in to the board, with the final deadline on December 15.
The board’s letter to the affiliates on November 24 informing them that Monday’s meeting was in violation of parade by-laws also indicated that plans for the 2016 march, which will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, are underway.
“We would like to assure everyone that the planning of the 2016 parade has been entrusted into the hands of individuals who have more than 100 years of combined experience as part of the parade structure for the past 25 years and are familiar with the logistical operations of the parade,” the letter said.
“Plans are advanced to meet with representatives of stakeholders and organizations seeking their input at this very important juncture. Additionally, it is the Board of Directors intent to meet with the affiliated organizations in the near future to engage in constructive dialogue.”
Meanwhile, attorneys for the board of directors continue to prepare the board’s defense against an action filed in Bronx Supreme Court last month by Dunleavy against Lahey, alleging that Lahey conspired with fellow board member and NBC executive Frank Comerford to keep the parade’s broadcast rights with WNBC, despite a free offer of coverage from rival network WPIX.
The Irish Voice has learned that depositions submitted by WPIX lawyers last week indicate that no such offer was ever made by the network. Carla Chadwick, Dunleavy’s former assistant, will be deposed next Wednesday by the board’s legal team about her dealings with WPIX. Some of Chadwick’s parade related expenses were also called into question by the parade’s forensic audit which was reported to the Attorney General’s office, first revealed in last week’s Irish Voice.
Dunleavy, a native of Westmeath, has been involved in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade since 1967, and was chairman of the board’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee since 1993. He was a staunch opponent of gay marching groups taking part in the parade under their own banners, and was angered that WNBC helped facilitate a deal that included a gay group, OUT@NBCUniversal, in this year’s line of march.
Dunleavy’s hold over the parade was loosened after a board of directors phone meeting in June, when Lahey was elected chairman of the board which oversees the Parade and Celebration Committee.
A forensic audit of parade finances conducted after Lahey became chairman revealed multiple instances of non-parade expenses charged by Dunleavy to the parade’s American Express card, including charges for male enhancement pills, clothing, hotels and restaurants.