A Bronx Supreme Court judge adjourned a temporary restraining order request on Thursday by counsel for New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Committee chairman John Dunleavy seeking to postpone a meeting of the parade’s governing board on Thursday night. The meeting was called to discuss a number of board changes that would have removed Dunleavy, an ardent opponent of of allowing LGBT groups to march in the parade, from presiding over the management of the march.
The Irish Voice and IrishCentral have learned that the legal team acting on behalf of the overseeing board and its chairman, Dr. John Lahey, is preparing a defense that will center on the forensic audit of parade finances ordered by Lahey that allegedly uncovered $24,000 in unauthorized expenses billed to the parade by Dunleavy, and $15,000 billed by former board member Michael Cassels, who was voted off the board in September after the non-parade charges approved by Dunleavy came to light.
Dunleavy’s attorney Francis X. Young submitted a 95 page document to the court on Tuesday as evidence for a temporary restraining order against a parade board meeting on Thursday that sought a number of by-law changes that would streamline the parade leadership and eliminate the committee that Dunleavy chairs. The case was not heard until Thursday because the necessary paperwork was not filed electronically.
On Wednesday, Lahey opted to adjourn the board meeting until a later date to make way for the legal process. On Thursday morning, the judge hearing the case gave Lahey and the board until December 10 to present evidence that would dismiss the complaint outright.
The expenses from Dunleavy and Cassels that came to light in the forensic accounting report cover 2013, 2014 and part of 2015. It is believed that the board will reach back further to include forensic reports from previous years to present to the court in its defense. Among the charges uncovered by the forensic team in the past year were trips to Washington, D.C., Myrtle Beach and medical bills, including prescriptions.
The latest controversy surrounding the St. Patrick’s Day parade has been reported on by a number of media outlets, including the New York Daily News and the local Fox 5 affiliate, which featured an interview on Thursday morning with a Jesuit priest, Father John R. Sheehan, who has led the petition drive on Change.org against Lahey and the board. The petition was launched over the weekend, and as of Thursday evening had gathered close to 4,500 signatures.
“[Lahey] is removing the voice of the affiliates… none of the affiliates will have a voice in the parade,” Sheehan told Fox 5.
On Monday, Lahey told the Irish Voice that the parade will always remain first and foremost a celebration of the life of St. Patrick – a point contained in Article 1 of the board’s bylaws – and any attempt to overturn that would occur “over my dead body. It is not and will never be up for discussion,” he said.