The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade chairman John Dunleavy has seriously lost the plot in terms of the future of the parade.
He appears to be running for chairman again on the policy of keeping gays out of the march, a retrograde step that would surely create exactly the wrong kind of headlines for the Irish in America.
The fact that he has offered TV coverage of the parade to other networks speaks volumes in what can only now be described as Dunleavy’s homophobic attitude to the Irish American gay community.
Despite the fact that Ireland recently approved same sex marriage by a huge majority, including in Dunleavy’s home county of Westmeath, and despite the fact that the OUT@NBCUniversal gay marching group acted with dignity and class when they took their place on Fifth Avenue this year, Dunleavy still wants to take the battle forward.
In that respect, he resembles the Japanese soldier who emerged from the jungle 20 years after World War II and asked was the conflict over.
Yes, John, the conflict is over. Same sex marriage is a reality in Ireland and will shortly be in the U.S., too.
There is a welcome shift that has occurred very rapidly in acceptance of gay rights from coast to coast in America and overseas.
Even Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York saw the tidal wave building, and signaled his approval of OUT@NBC by agreeing to be this year’s parade grand marshal.
That was a hugely progressive step by the cardinal and by the Irish community generally, though there is no question that the main Irish gay group, Brendan Fay’s Lavender and Green Alliance, should also have been allowed to march.
If Dunleavy persists in seeking to turn the clock back, it will prove to be disastrous. It is high time members of the parade committee woke up and appointed a chairman who lives in the 21st century, not in the 19th.
The attitude that Dunleavy reflects is so out of whack with both modern day Ireland and Irish America that it is inconceivable that he will succeed.
By trying to take TV coverage away from NBC, he is signaling an aggressive and totally foolish policy which will end in disaster.
The only people who can prevent him from taking this course are those who will elect the chairman.
Do we really want to see another spectacle next year of mass boycotts of the parade, and a huge tide of revulsion aimed at the Irish community because the chairman is clearly exhibiting homophobic behavior?
Exclusion should never be the Irish way. As the peace process proved, bringing all the sides together and entering discussions is by far the best way forward in conflict.
The high-handed ways when Dunleavy decided and the parade committee agreed are long gone.
Corporate America, NBC, Cardinal Dolan, the Irish government, the City of New York, and the vast majority of the Irish American community have all made clear that they want to see an inclusive Fifth Avenue parade each year.
Dunleavy, for all his work on the parade for 44 years, is not the man to lead the event forward. His actions and the evidence of the parade video which the Irish Voice reports on this week clearly show that.
If the Irish want to be the one ethnic group left in America unable to cope with diversity, then Dunleavy is the man to lead them there.
And if those who elect the parade chairman are serious about wanting to reflect the new Ireland and a new Irish America, they know what they have to do.