The split in the Irish government over attitudes to marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York has deepened with Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore backing the decision of his cabinet minister colleague Joan Burton not to march.
Burton has stated that she will not take part, though she is due in New York, because of the ban on gay Irish organizations.
Gilmore who leads the Labour Party in the coalition government with Fine Gael is siding with his Labour colleague.
“I think it’s important that we are part of that parade. But I believe that the rules should be changed and my views on that have been well-known for some time,” he said.
He is now at odds with his leader Enda Kenny, who has made it clear that he will march on the day and that the rules of the parade are a matter for the organizers.
"As I understand from the organizers of the parade, they allow anyone to walk in it. They just don't allow them to carry individual banners. It is my intention to be there in New York"
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar has criticized cabinet colleague Burton for her stance.
“We have rarely seen instances where boycotts have been successful. It is better to attend the event but at the event to tell people what you think, “ he stated.
The split will lead to an unprecedented situation in New York with the leader of the government walking in the parade and a senior minister refusing to do so.
A total of 27 government ministers will be out of the country on St.Patrick’s Day. Finance Minister Michael Noonan is scheduled to visit Canada; Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar, Health Minister James Reilly and Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan will go to five US cities between them, including Cleveland, San Francisco and Atlanta.
Gilmore stated that parades should be “inclusive” and that the New York parade was “a very important parade”, he noted.
He stated that he nonetheless believed the Government should be represented at the parade in order to “support Irish-American organizations who have helped on issues such as emigration and trade and to support workers in the fire service and police service who worked in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001, attacks.”