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A breakthrough… Irish gay rights group to march in New York Paddy’s Day parade

Members of the New York City Police Department march in the St. Patrick's Day parade past protesters, Monday, March 17, 2014 in New York. The banner reads "Boycott Homophobia." The city's St. Patrick's Day parade stepped off Monday without Mayor Bill de Blasio marching along with the crowds of kilted Irish-Americans and bagpipers amid a dispute over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Members of the New York City Police Department march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade past protesters, Monday, March 17, 2014 in New York. The banner reads “Boycott Homophobia.” The city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade stepped off Monday without Mayor Bill de Blasio marching along with the crowds of kilted Irish-Americans and bagpipers amid a dispute over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

TheJournal.ie - A break through

 

THE NEW YORK St Patrick’s Day committee has allowed an Irish LGBT group to march in the 2016 parade, carrying a banner, for the first time in the event’s history.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie from Queens this evening, Louth man Brendan Fay called it “a stunning announcement” and a “marvellous moment.”

During a board meeting of the committee, it was decided to accept the application of the Irish LGBT group the Lavender and Green Alliance, of which Fay is a co-founder.

This is it. This is a historic moment. It’s amazing.

The landmark decision appears to bring an end to a 25-year struggle by Irish and Irish-American LGBT activists to openly take part in the world’s largest St Patrick’s Day event.

In a statement, Fay added:

We have been on a long and winding road to equality, a road marked by painful exclusion and years of protests and arrests.

With this decision, we are transformed from cultural outsiders to insiders who can share in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a vital expression of our heritage and culture

 

TheJournal.ie - blasiopats

The move comes amid increasing pressure on organisers to allow for a fully inclusive parade.

In 2014, Bill deBlasio became the first New York mayor in a generation to boycott the event, due to the ban on openly gay groups.

In March, after Guinness withdrew support from the parade, a group of LGBT employees of TV sponsors NBC were allowed to take part, but some activists regarded this as an unsatisfactory compromise.

In July, John Dunleavy was ousted as chairman of the committee, and replaced by Quinnipiac University president Dr John Lahey, who had been lobbying internally for the inclusion of LGBT participants.

In a statement sent to TheJournal.ie, Lahy said:

Since 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising, the birth of Irish independence, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17 is a special opportunity for renewed commitment to Irish values and traditions, and the Irish role in the 21st Century.

We are working with the Irish government in this anniversary year to teach our young people the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit.

Irish politicians have traditionally taken part in the parade during annual St Patrick’s Day trips to the United States, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan marching in 2014 and 2015.

Last year, however, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton publicly vowed not to participate, “unless progress was forthcoming” in adding LGBT groups to the fold.

Brendan Fay, who has been arrested several times while picketing the parade, and 15 years ago helped set up the alternative St Pat’s For All event, concluded:

It will be a great day for the Irish diaspora and for all New Yorkers as we will honor the centenary of 1916 Rising together.

The words from the 1916 proclamation, ”cherishing all the children of the nation equally” will be real and meaningful

Irish school 'postpones' anti-gay bullying workshops

Coláiste Eoin The school postponed an anti-homophobic bullying workshop following complaints from parents

A school in Dublin has postponed an anti-homophobic bullying workshop following complaints from parents.

A charity, Shout Out, was due to give the workshop to 120 transition year students (15-16 year olds) on Tuesday.

The workshops were called off after facilitators arrived at Coláiste Eoin and were told about the complaints.

The school, in Stillorgan, said they plan to reschedule the workshops but as of yet have made no contact with the group.

The principal of the all boys school, Finín Máirtín, initially said that the “other side” needed to be represented.

The school later clarified that he meant ‘other view points which have been expressed’.

‘Disappointed’

Shout Out, a lesbian gay bisexual and transgender education charity, deliver workshops about anti homophobic bullying and say they educate pupils about tolerance and respect.

Declan Meehan from Shout Out said they were “disappointed” that the school had cancelled the workshop.

“We’ve been to the school twice before and never had a problem before,” he said.

Jan O'Sullivan

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she is disappointed that the workshop was postponed

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she is disappointed that the workshop was postponed

“Our priority is to deliver the workshop and we will accept any invitation to return to the school.”

The school declined to be interviewed but did release a statement.

“On this particular occasion the board of management have received written communications from a number of parents outlining their concerns regarding the workshop,” they said.

“In this context it was incumbent on the board to address all issues and to seek the advice available from Catholic management representative bodies available to secondary schools.

Language and tolerance

“It is proposed to invite Shout Out to make their presentation at a future date in the course of the current academic year.

“Coláiste Eoin is a Catholic school and as such endeavours to promote a caring, tolerant and inclusive school community.”

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said she was “disappointed” that the workshops had been postponed.

Ms O’Sullivan said she hopes the school will “reschedule these important workshops in the near future”.

The Shout Out workshops are led by volunteers aged 20-25 who have experience of being an LGBT young person going through school.

A heterosexual person also takes part in the workshop and use of appropriate language and tolerance are discussed.

They have delivered workshops to more than 60 schools over the last 18 months.