It is hardly surprising, but nonetheless shocking, that the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade has wound up in court again.
Dr. John Lahey, the Chairman of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc., the legal non-profit in charge of managing the parade, has taken the bull by the horns and attempted to clean out the Augean stable and the yearly mess the parade has become.
In order to do so he has had to tackle the entrenched chairman of the board’s Parade and Celebration Committee John Dunleavy and his supporters, many of whom attained powerful positions because of his patronage.
The upshot of the court case now ongoing in the Bronx is that it will deal with the lawsuit launched by Dunleavy against Lahey, an action which is full of misrepresentations as will become obvious.
Dunleavy has claimed that Lahey is attempting to end St. Patrick's and the Catholic connection to the parade, and his supporters have circulated a petition alleging such. The petition was hardly out there before many conservative Catholic groups jumped on board damning Lahey for being anti-Catholic.
Father John Sheehan, a New York priest and hardly a household name in Irish America, is leading an ecclesiastical charge against Lahey. He might be better waiting to see what the court documents contain before attacking Lahey as the enemy. Just have a look at this story: "Forensic audit shows major issues with Patrick’s Day Parade finances." This will give you an idea of what was going on under his watch.
Fact is, what Lahey is doing is trying to clean up the eyesore the parade has become in the Irish community and beyond, with the annual inflamed headlines and homophobic attitude of its leaders all too evident. He is also trying to clean up the financial management of the parade, and thereby hangs a tale.
Homophobic thinking should have no place in Irish America. In Ireland, the first gay marriage following the referendum passed by the people will take place this month.
Time has moved on, but the New York parade has not. The Irish community has been tarred with this homophobic label as the actions of a few have caused all the vitriol.
Into that cauldron stepped Lahey, a former parade grand marshal and the educator who created the Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University which he leads as president. He is a man with more Irish American accomplishments to his name than the anti-Lahey brass band combined.
He will now lay out his case in court documents as to why the moves he made were necessary. His rabid opponents might be a lot better off waiting to see what that case is before attacking the man ad hominem.
Change is always difficult to bring about, but the state of affairs with the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade had reached an absolute crisis.
Dunleavy continues to insist that WPIX had offered to provide television coverage of the parade, a statement utterly denied by WPIX.
Think of it: Why would WPIX cover a parade with no Irish gay groups allowed which would be boycotted by every elected official and dignitary and lead to yet another stand-off on Fifth Avenue?
Yet this is what the Dunleavy camp appears to believe that WPIX offered.
Some years back a great Irish American named Bill Flynn, then chairman of insurance giant Mutual of America, also tried to straighten out the parade finances and lack of transparency. He was quickly rebuffed by Dunleavy and Co.
There seems little doubt that with this court case that will not be the result this time.
More to come.