Monday 22 January 2018

Burton criticised by colleagues for her decision to boycott New York parade

Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer
Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton has been criticised by one of her own cabinet colleagues for her decision to boycott the St Patrick's Day parade in New York.

Ms Burton yesterday said she would not be attending the parade because of its exclusion of gay and lesbian groups.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny refused to take the same course and said he intends to march in next month's event.

Minister for Transport, Sport and Tourism, Leo Varadkar, today criticised Ms Burton's decision to snub the parade, adding that boycotting such events is counterproductive.

"I've rarely seen instances where boycotts have been successful in any way. I think it's better to attend any event but at that event, to tell people what you think and what they're view is,"Mr Varadkar said.

"I think this government is a very strong supporter of LGBT rights, we've demonstrated that in a number of ways, both with the adoption legislation that's forthcoming and the referendum next year. And I'd like to see us attending these events and saying that to the organisers and rather than boycotting them, because when you boycott things you just ignore it.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny insisted it was not his responsibility to "determine the conditions" of the parade which he said represents an important opportunity to promote Ireland in the US.

There have been calls for Mr Kenny to boycott the event over the exclusion of gay and lesbian groups. He is scheduled to march in the famous Fifth Avenue procession, which does not permit banners or displays for gay causes.

Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer, who last week spoke of being beaten and spat at for being gay, said he would prefer it if Mr Kenny did not take part.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton also heaped pressure on Mr Kenny by claiming that she would boycott the event until it became "more inclusive".

"The St Patrick's Day parade . . . needs to be inclusive of the whole Irish cultural experience and the whole width and breadth and diversity of Irish people and descendants of Irish people who have gone to the United States," Ms Burton said.


Ms Burton, who is due to be in New York for the celebrations, stopped short of calling on Mr Kenny to follow suit.

"The Taoiseach will make his arrangements and the Taoiseach I'm sure will speak to you about those," she added.

Speaking in Athlone yesterday, Mr Kenny defended his decision to participate in the event.

"There are very few countries that have a day that they can call their own when Christ the Redeemer will be green, when the Eiffel Tower will be green, when the White House will be green, when the Great Wheel in London will be green, when Irish people all over the world celebrate Irish heritage and Irishness," he said.

"For that reason, I think it's very important that we celebrate that and obviously as one who'll attend in New York, I intend to participate in it."

Meanwhile, the mayor of Ennis has refused to rule out boycotting the event when she visits New York next month.

"It all depends on what the council as a whole decides and whether I travel to New York for the parade will be decided by all nine councillors," said Mary Coote-Ryan.

The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, has said he will boycott the parade because of the exclusion of gay and lesbian groups. He is the first mayor in 20 years to take such a stance.

Irish Independent

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