At the last minute, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has reinstated the annual breakfast at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence, on St. Patrick’s morning.
A number of key people in the New York City Irish community have just received invitations – far later than in previous years.
The mayor’s announcement in early February that he would not be participating in the official St. Patrick’s Day parade because of its ban on openly LGBT marchers has been followed by weeks of increasingly strained relations with the Irish community.
This, coupled with total silence from the mayor’s office, which still has not appointed an ethnic liaison as is customary, led many to assume that the breakfast would not be taking place.
The mayor’s breakfast is the traditional start of St. Patrick’s Day for New York’s senior figures. This year, the invitation-only event will begin at 8am on the morning of March 17 at Gracie Mansion, which is in Carl Shurz Park on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The mayor’s decision to boycott the Fifth Avenue parade has been met with consternation from some and praise from others. This dynamic has been closely monitored by IrishCentral in recent weeks.
Thus far, the only Irish event he has attended was the St. Pat’s For All celebration in Queens, which bills itself as an inclusive celebration.
De Blasio declined to march in the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day parade, which took place on the same weekend. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, the celebration has taken on even greater significance to the Irish community there.
At the time, de Blasio’s statement that his “approach has been to embrace parades that are inclusive, and that’s the standard we’re going to hold” was met with confusion, as the Rockaway parade does not have a history of excluding LGBT groups from marching. A mayoral spokesperson later explained that de Blasio had misspoken, confusing the Rockaway parade with the Staten Island parade, and that he did not attend the Rockaway celebration because of ‘scheduling reasons.’
While there are no indications that de Blasio will reverse his decision to boycott the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and despite the fact that he has been considerably less hands-on in the parade debate than his counterpart in Boston, Marty Walsh, the news that the event will in fact be happening, late in the game as it is, signifies an olive branch of sorts.
In addition, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is also boycotting the Fifth Avenue parade, just announced with other members of the New York City Council that the annual Celebration of Irish Heritage and Culture will be taking place on March 19 in the City Council’s chambers at City Hall.