A meeting of the parade officers and board members on Tuesday afternoon resulted in the ouster of Dunleavy, 76, in a move expected after the Irish Voice reported last month that Dunleavy said gay groups would “have a problem” marching in next year’s event. It is not yet known who will replace Dunleavy as chairman.
Dunleavy was also offering the TV rights to the march to other local networks, in retaliation at NBC for being part of a compromise that allowed OUT@NBCUniversal to march behind its own banner this year. OUT is the network’s LGBT support group, and their participation marked the first time that a gay group marched up Fifth Avenue under its own banner.
In April, Dunleavy said that he planned on seeking another term as parade chairman, but his position became untenable because of his fierce opposition to allowing gay groups to march. Dr. John Lahey, the parade’s vice chairman and president of Quinnipiac University, was prepared to resign his position as chairman of the parade’s media deals if Dunleavy and his allies mustered enough support to prevent gay groups from taking part in next year’s event.
“As we discussed at our recent meeting, I made some decisions with our advertisers’ input for the 2015 parade broadcast with which you and some other directors strongly disagree,” Lahey wrote in a May letter to Dunleavy obtained by the Irish Voice.
“I don’t think it is a good thing for us to repeat this inconsistency in 2016, and whoever is chairman of TV and media for the 2016 parade needs the full support and clear direction from the Board of Directors.”
Lahey also stated his wish to see a second gay group take part in next year’s march. Many politicians boycotted the 2015 parade because of the continued exclusion of Irish gay groups.
“I have very clear beliefs…on the need to add one more group in the 2016 parade. As chairman of TV and media, I would be happy to lead any discussions with our advertisers with respect to an appropriate second group if the Board of Directors so authorizes me,” Lahey wrote.
The emergence of an interview video on the parade’s official Facebook page clearly showed Dunleavy’s resistance to having gay groups in the line of march. The video, after its existence was reported in the Irish Voice, was removed from the Facebook page.
“There is going to be some changes,” Dunleavy said when asked about next year’s march by the interviewer at a lunch for parade volunteers held at Antun’s in Queens in April.
“No major changes but there is going to be changes. I am going to run for another term and [at] that time we will put certain items into the changes that we need.”
Clearly commenting on the inclusion of gay groups in next year’s march, Dunleavy warned, “The parade itself is not there to promote anybody’s particular agenda in any way, shape or form. The parade represents our faith, our heritage and our culture, nothing more and nothing less. So we’re going to keep to that, and anybody who wants to mix that up is going to have a problem next year.”