Were you among the two million revelers at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Pride Parade yesterday? It was the 250th anniversary of the event, and my knowledge of round numbers suggests that is a big deal! And Mayor Michael Bloomberg was kind enough to show up, even after all the other unwelcoming receptions he got at other St. P’s events around town. But the real guest of honor was Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, who met with always unwelcome gays before the parade.
The committee in charge of the biggest parade in the world prohibits gay people from marching as a group, a move that has long infuriated liberal activists. The organisers contend that gay people are free to participate as individuals but that allowing them to march under their own banner would be contrary to the supposed Catholic ethos of the event.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore was supportive of the case made by gay rights activists at a meeting on the day before the parade, according to participants. According to one attendee, New York City councilman Daniel Dromm, Mr Gilmore said “exclusion is not Irish” and noted that contemporary Ireland “may not be the quaint Ireland that people have in their minds but it is a large, multicultural, inclusive nation”. No transcript of the Tánaiste’s remarks was immediately available and the media were not made aware of the meeting in advance.
Another participant, Seán Cahill, managing director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New Yorkbased organisation, said that Mr Gilmore did not initially appear aware that the issue of the gay ban had not been resolved. But he said that the Tánaiste “made it really clear that he supports full equality for gay people”. Mr Cahill added that Mr Gilmore undertook to raise the issue with parade organisers, saying he would argue that any St Patrick’s Day Parade “should celebrate Ireland as it is now”.
You know, the Ireland that’s so gay-accepting its president Mary McAleese refused to serve as grand marshal of the 250th anniversary parade because of how politically toxic the move would’ve been.