The Irish community in New York should not forget that their mayor sees them as a once a year chore that he needs to endure.
Marching season 2018 is upon us. The wearin’ of the green has already taken place in locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, and congratulations are due to the Rutherford Irish American Association in New Jersey which staged its inaugural parade on Sunday to the delight of hundreds of spectators and marchers who had a blast celebrating their Irish pride.
The annual parade in Mineola, Long Island on Sunday was a massive success too, with more marching units and bands than ever before and a robust crowd gathering at the venerable Irish American Center HQ afterwards for post-parade merriment.
The New York area’s first St. Patrick’s march took place on Saturday in the Rockaways, as always, and a hearty band of locals took to the windy streets to march and cheer. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, couldn’t be bothered to make his way to the far reaches of Queens to celebrate Irish pride.
That’s not surprising really – de Blasio has marched in the heavily Irish Rockaways before and the boo birds have been out in force. So why would he rise and shine on a Saturday to wave a little Irish Tricolor at people who would, for the most part, tell him to get lost or worse?
Way more disturbing was de Blasio’s no-show at Sunday’s St. Pat’s for All parade in the Woodside/Sunnyside area of Queens. His public schedule said he’d be in New York City, with “no public events scheduled,” but, bless him, he sent two reps from his LGBTQ office.
Did the mayor need a day to catch up with the Kardashians? His absence couldn’t have been down to his well-known aversion to awakening early. St. Pat’s for All didn’t start till 1 p.m., and it was only a hop-skip from the mayor’s Gracie Mansion digs on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The parade, led by the long-time respected Irish LGBT activist Brendan Fay, has always offered de Blasio a warm welcome. His absence for the second year in a row – last year he was off raising money somewhere for his re-election campaign – isn’t an indictment of the parade, but rather an insight into de Blasio’s regard for the Irish in New York.
And what would that be? He could give a ****. We’re not his core voting bloc, and as such he’s quite happy to keep us at arm’s length.
Sure, he’ll put on his green tie and host the annual mayor’s St. Patrick’s morning breakfast at Gracie, as all his predecessors have done, and he’ll go to Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and he’ll march up Fifth Avenue with the NYPD or the FDNY or whoever. And he’ll say nice things about how the Irish have been so important to New York, and great for America…etc., etc.
And then he’ll forget about us until next March. Which is a shame really.
De Blasio was the driving force in securing the inclusion of Fay’s Lavender and Green Alliance in the New York City parade in 2016, a groundbreaking event that once and for all made the Fifth Avenue march truly open to all. He even attended a press conference at the Irish Consulate that year to announce the compromise and bask in the glory.
If de Blasio has national aspirations – which the 56-year-old term limited mayor surely does, seeing himself as a Bernie Sanders heir – he might just need an Irish helping hand. We shouldn’t forget that he sees us as a once a year chore that he needs to endure.