New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who is openly gay, has announced she will march in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this year.
The move is a direct snub to organisers of the New York City parade who have again banned gay and lesbian groups from participating in the event.
Quinn, a Democrat and council speaker in NYC, will march in the Dublin parade on March 17th after being personally invited by officials.
She is expected to be joined by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the speaker of the Lower House of the Irish Parliament, and Dublin City Council members, AP reports.
“My participation in Dublin’s parade is an opportunity to march openly as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, something we have not been able to do in New York City,” Quinn said.
“I hope my participation in the Dublin march will send a message about the importance of inclusion,” she added.
The New York City parade is organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic fraternal organisation. They have refused to allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the parade since 1991.
After becoming council speaker Quinn tried to make a deal with the organisers of the event last year. The discussions were unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately, a compromise has not been reached this year with organisers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that would allow LGBT Irish New Yorkers to march in a way that openly celebrates our heritage and identity,” she said last year.
“New York City is the most diverse and welcoming place in the world – it’s a shame that for yet another year our St. Patrick’s Day parade won’t reflect that diversity.”
The parade in New York is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day events in the world.
In 2006 more than 150,000 marchers took part in the procession and around 2 million spectators watched on from the streets.
Dublin boasts a five-day festival and in 2006 over 500,000 people attended the parade.
The New York event has historically attracted loud protest from gay rights groups. In the past several hundred arrests were made on average each year.
Quinn is optimistic that New York’s gay and lesbian communities will eventually be able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In 2006 she said:
“I continue to hope and I firmly believe that someday soon Irish LGBT New Yorkers will proudly and openly march up Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day.”