Thursday 22 February 2018

US St Patrick's Day parade boycott over Provo fundraiser

Edward Kennedy was among those who boycotted the parade
Edward Kennedy was among those who boycotted the parade

Ralph Riegel and Chris Parkin

THE government aimed a powerful diplomatic blitz at the IRA's American fundraisers as terrorism escalated 30 years ago.

It culminated in the absence of a formal Irish presence at the annual St Patrick's Day parade down New York's Fifth Avenue in 1983.

Officials were ordered to pull out of the prestigious procession through the city because the organisers opted to appoint veteran hardline republican Michael Flannery as grand marshall for the celebrated event.

At the time, Flannery was the head of Noraid, which financed the Provisionals and was seen as crucial in their efforts to finance and keep open arms and ammunition supply routes.

On learning of the Grand Marshall's identity, the Irish authorities in New York declared: "A situation has been created which forces all Irish government representatives and agencies to break with our long record of participation in the St Patrick's Day parade.

"The organisers have selected as Grand Marshal a person who has an avowed personal involvement in sponsoring violence in Ireland and who heads an organisation which the United States courts have declared to be agents of the IRA."

Referring directly to the planned Noraid-dominated New York celebrations, the government said: "We deplore the use of the healing and unifying symbol of Ireland's national patron for such bitterly divisive and destructive ends. The great majority of Irish people have a deep commitment to the process of politics and reconciliation."

The parade was also boycotted by senior Irish-American politicians, including senators Edward Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Tipperary-born Michael Flannery, who was once cleared of smuggling arms by a US court, died in 1994.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News