Members of the affiliated organizations of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade will gather on Wednesday, November 18 at Cathedral High School in Manhattan to discuss the leadership changes in the parade, and what the affiliates say is their severely diminished role in how the march is run.
Dennis Grogan, president of the New York County AOH and one of the organizers of the affiliates’ campaign – the other being John Manning, president of the Queens County AOH – outlined the meeting’s agenda in a recent email to members of his AOH group. The affiliates are seeking to have withdrawn a proposal by St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc. Chairman Dr. John Lahey to change a number of by-laws that would eliminate the board’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee, and replace it with a new streamlined Executive Committee.
“Each elected member of the Parade [and Celebration] Committee became a director of the Parade Corporation which gave the affiliated groups a voice on the board of the Parade Corporation,” Grogan wrote.
The affiliates also allege that the board under Lahey wants to secularize the parade, a charge that Lahey has flatly denied. Wednesday’s meeting, Grogan wrote, will seek “the restoration of the Parade [and Celebration] Committee’s mission: to honor St. Patrick as the patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York and of Ireland. The Executive Committee, according to the proposed changes, has no mission.”
The meeting will call “for an immediate convening of an election for all positions on the Parade [and Celebration] Committee,” and will also seek “to preserve the voice of the affiliated organizations in the selection of the members of the Parade [and Celebration] Committee as per the existing by-laws.”
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee remains headed by long-time parade leader John Dunleavy, whose role in the parade was diminished by the board in June after a series of financial irregularities with regards to parade finances came to light.
Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University and a former parade grand marshal, was elected to chair the overall board and to oversee the parade’s future direction at the June meeting. His first order of business was to conduct a forensic accounting audit of the parade’s finances which revealed several questionable transactions and resulted in the ouster of one board member, Michael Cassels, in September after it was discovered he double-billed the parade for expenses.
Manning posted a letter to this writer on the Change Saint Patrick’s NYC Facebook page last Wednesday expressing his “sincere disappointment that you and IrishCentral [have] chosen inaccurately to conflate the concerns of the affiliated organizations regarding the by-law changes and the allegations of financial irregularities by the board against some of its members.”
The affiliates’ concern, Manning wrote “is strictly with the by-law changes proposed by Dr. Lahey and the board.” The controversy surrounding Dunleavy’s diminished leadership role “are out of scope,” Manning wrote.
The letter asked this writer to “engage in dialogue,” which was immediately attempted and would have happened sooner if outreach was made directly via email or phone as opposed to a Facebook post. A September email from this writer to Manning about his alleged role in restoring Dunleavy’s position in the parade remains unanswered.
The Irish Voice offered to meet Manning last week, and after a few email exchanges – including one on Tuesday before press time -- nothing came of the offer. In the interests of fairness Manning was asked if the exchanges could be used for attribution. As of press time, no response was received.