WPIX Channel 11 in New York will not broadcast next year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade and never made a formal offer to do so, a highly placed source within the network tells the Irish Voice.
John Dunleavy, the chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee, and his allies are distributing an alleged letter from the network outlining the terms of a supposed offer that would see WPIX carry all the production costs for next year, and split any revenue over $400,000 with the parade.
The undated letter was signed from “Rich & Bob,” and though the WPIX source was able to confirm that a “Rich” does work for the network as a manager, no formal deal was ever extended from WPIX to the parade committee, and as such the authenticity of the letter was unable to be verified.
Dunleavy’s long-time control of the St. Patrick’s Day parade was curtailed in June after the parade’s overseeing board, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc., voted to approve Dr. John Lahey as board chairman with responsibility to lead the event going forward.
Dunleavy has been a staunch opponent of gay groups marching in the parade, and contacted both WPIX and the local Fox affiliate in retaliation at long-time parade broadcast home WNBC for its part in the compromise that led to the first gay group, OUT@NBCUniversal, marching this year. Fox 5 expressed no interest in moving forward.
The WPIX source confirmed to Irish Voice that “preliminary” talks between WPIX and Dunleavy loyalists on the parade committee took place earlier this year. The outreach was initiated by Dunleavy, but it became apparent to WPIX representatives that they were being used as a “pawn” in the larger issue of who makes decisions about the direction and management of the parade.
WPIX decided to opt out of further discussion. There has been no contact between Dunleavy and the network for “several weeks,” according to the source.
In a meeting called by Dunleavy and his supporters last month at Antun’s in Queens Village, a packet was handed out to parade delegates in attendance with the alleged WPIX letter, and a host of other documents related to June’s board meeting that elected Lahey, President of Quinnipiac University, and businessman John Fitzsimons as vice chair.
One of the letters, from Lahey to Dunleavy, dated July 8, 2015, confirmed the new parade leadership and the change of signatories on parade bank accounts from Dunleavy to Lahey, Fitzsimons and executive secretary Hilary Beirne.
“Finally, it has come to our attention that you may have removed parade-related documents from the parade office – please be advised that any such documents are the property of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc., and should be returned immediately,” Lahey concluded.
At the meeting in Antun’s, Dunleavy’s supporters vowed to start a letter writing campaign on his behalf to the members of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc. board, the Irish government and WNBC. Dunleavy also had a lawyer, Francis X. Young of White Plains, write a letter to Lahey saying that Dunleavy would not “stand idly by and permit this coup to succeed.”
“Our annual parade is fast approaching and I look forward to reversing the conduct of yourself and Quinnipiac as soon as possible,” Young added.
In addition to his chairmanship of the board’s parade committee that is responsible for the formation of parade marching groups, Dunleavy also retains a seat on the board of St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc. The next meeting of the board is set for later this month.
Board members will have the opportunity to vote for the inclusion of a second gay group in next year’s line of march – a move expected to easily pass – and to confirm WNBC as the parade broadcast network for the next three years.
Lahey and his associates have been working on plans for next year’s march in conjunction with the Irish government. The highlight will be the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.