Thursday 27 November 2014

Taoiseach defends decision to march in New York's parade

Lise Hand in New York

Published 17/03/2014 | 17:52

17.3.14
Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets members of the PSNI and Gardai who march together in parade.
CREDIT: Lise Hand 
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Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets members of the PSNI and Gardai Photo: Lise Hand
Enda Kenny marches up Fifth Avenue. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Enda Kenny marches up Fifth Avenue. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
The Taoiseach speaks with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Reuthers/Shannon Stapleton
People stand along 5th avenue during the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York March 17, 2014. About one million spectators, mostly dressed in green, streamed into New York on Monday for its St. Patrick's Day Parade, even as the city's mayor and beer companies that previously sponsored the event dropped out amid concerns that organizers excluded gay groups. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
People stand along Fifth Avenue in New York. About one million spectators, mostly dressed in green, streamed into New York on Monday for its St. Patrick's Day Parade. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
New York city's mayor, and beer companies that previously sponsored the event, dropped out amid concerns that organizers excluded gay groups. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Nuns wave Irish flags outside St. Patrick's Cathedral during the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators protest as members of the FDNY Pipes and Drums Em march during the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

The Taoiseach defended his decision to march in the St Patrick's Day parade which has been overshadowed by controversy over the exclusion of LGBT groups.

"This is St Patrick's Day, the 17th of March 2014, 180,000 people will march in New York today, many of them are gay people and they march proudly in the St Patrick's Day parade, as I do myself," he said.

Mr Kenny was speaking before participating in the parade which was boycotted by the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio; also Guinness USA and Heineken USA withdrew sponsorship from the event over the prohibition on gays carrying banners in the parade.

However, the Taoiseach said, "I've been invited here, I think it's a real opportunity to continue to express the solidarity that we have with Irish-America," adding that the Irish government had sent a representative, junior minister Ciaran Cannon to the alternative parade. "This is Ireland's day and I'm proud to march for my country as its leader."

A small protest of about 50 gay rights campaigners waved banners and placards as the parade passed along Fifth Avenue.

Bronx resident Emmaia Gelman said, "the parade is so notoriously homophobic that the mayor won't march in it, the city council won't march in it, and it's losing sponsors."

The Taoiseach is due to meet with Mayor de Blasio in City Hall later today.

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