This year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade was one for the history books, and the 2017 march is 11 months away, but the behind the scenes battles for control of the parade are continuing.
The Irish Voice has learned that Dr. John Lahey, chairman of the parade’s board of directors, plans on sending the parade’s affiliated organizations a letter this week with an offer containing two proposals to work together in the future: the affiliates can choose to elect four members to the parade board – one each from the AOH, the LAOH, the United Irish Counties and the Emerald groups – or they can opt to put forward the Parade and Celebration Committee that they elected last November at a meeting in Queens where the long-time committee chair, John Dunleavy, declined to seek re-election.
The new committee, headed by attorney John Tully, sent a letter to the parade’s affiliated groups last week asking them to attend a meeting on Thursday, May 5 at Cathedral High School in New York. The letter, signed by Tully, said the committee, which has always served under the board of directors, “promised you we would address and resolve all issues concerning the governance of our parade starting on March 18.”
Read more: Record views for NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland
Tully added that the committee – two of whose members, Catherine Mitchell Miceli and Rosemary Lombard, also serve on the parade’s board of directors – would use the meeting to “discuss our views of the existing governance issues and ideas for resolution. More importantly, we need to hear your thoughts on the issues, as well as your feedback on the 2016 parade.”
Surprisingly, the Lavender and Green Alliance – the first Irish gay group to march in the parade, given the go-ahead to do to this year by the board – also received Tully’s letter. The issue of an Irish gay group taking part in the parade was finally put to rest in 2016 by the inclusion of Lavender and Green – in 2015, NBC’s LBGT group OUT@NBCUniversal became the first gay group to march, and they also did so this year – and as a result New York politicians returned to the parade en masse, led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who boycotted for his first two years in office due to the Irish gay group ban which Dunleavy consistently fought to uphold during his time as Parade and Celebration Committee chairman.
The Brehon Law Society, the other new group granted admission to the parade line of march this year – the Brehons accepted because the ban on an Irish LGBT group was lifted – was also notified about the May 5 meeting.
The Lavender and Green Alliance plans on attending the meeting, co-founder Brendan Fay told the Irish Voice.
“We welcome the opportunity to speak about how much being part of the 2016 parade meant for so many people,” Fay said.
Meanwhile, the parade’s board of directors met in New York on Wednesday, April 20. Dunleavy, whose civil lawsuit against Lahey and board member Frank Comerford is due to be heard in Bronx Supreme Court on May 19 -- the lawsuit alleges that the June 2015 board meeting that elevated Lahey to chairman was called illegally, and that Lahey and Comerford, an NBC executive, conspired to keep the parade’s broadcast rights with WNBC – was in attendance at the meeting at the Metropolitan Club as he retains one of the 17 seats on the board.
Dunleavy was silent for most of the board meeting, several sources told the Irish Voice, but he did voice objection in two instances: the election of Hilary Beirne as the parade’s chief administrative officer, and Frank McGreal as chief financial officer.
Beirne and McGreal, long-time board members who oversee the parade’s logistics, were overwhelmingly elected to the new positions, save for Dunleavy’s opposition and one board member who abstained.
Dunleavy was the subject of an investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office, which acted on a letter received by the board last November detailing alleged financial improprieties uncovered by a forensic audit of the parade’s finances.
The audit revealed several questionable transactions authorized by Dunleavy, including the purchase of a male enhancement drug on the parade’s credit card, but in March the Attorney General’s office closed its investigation, finding that the alleged financial mismanagement did not rise to the level that would warrant further action from the office.
Read more from March 2016: St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York becomes one nation once again