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ILGO plans protests; Hibs discuss permit

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization is planning to again protest its exclusion from the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

But this year’s protests are likely to be different in form and there are no plans at this stage to block Fifth Avenue as in previous years, an ILGO spokesperson, Aine Duggan, said.

Instead, ILGO members will stage "colorful" protests along the parade route during the march.

And against the backdrop of another year of planned ILGO protest, the 11th, a meeting is in the works between parade officials and leaders of the Ancient Order of Hibernians who want to see changes to the way that the parade itself is run.

ILGO, according to Duggan, is not planning to assemble outside the New York Public Library before the March 17 parade steps off.

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"I can’t speak for other groups, but ILGO will not be at the library," she said.

In most recent years, ILGO members have gathered on the library steps at 42nd Street before stepping onto Fifth Avenue, a tactic that inevitably resulted in ILGO members being arrested by police.

Last year, the blocking of Fifth Avenue was staged farther up the avenue outside the Plaza Hotel.

While protest plans were not yet firmed up, said Duggan, the likely form of action this year would be a "sidelines protests for the duration of the parade."

She said that given the fact that this year’s parade was honoring the contribution of the labor movement to America, ILGO had been reaching out for support in recent weeks to labor groups.

"We’re hoping people in the parade will express their support for an inclusive parade, as more and more people are," Duggan told the Echo.

Before the Manhattan parade, ILGO would be taking part in the March 4 Woodside parade in Queens," Duggan said.

Meanwhile, the meeting between Hibernian leaders and parade organizers may not take place before a Feb. 15 deadline imposed on parade officials by the AOH national leadership in early December.

The National and New York State Boards of the AOH want to see the process of applying for the New York parade permit returned to the New York County Board.

In recent years, the parade permit holder has been the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee, a group that some Hibernian leaders feel has not been operating under the AOH constitution and bylaws.

At the December meeting at a hotel near La Guardia Airport, AOH National President Tom Gilligan requested a progress report dealing with the permit issue and the running of the parade from New York County Board President Dave Kilkenny.

The report was to be ready at a point in January, while Feb. 15 was the stated deadline for a settlement of the issue over which group — the parade committee or county board — would be responsible in the future for seeking the Fifth Avenue parade permit.

Gilligan has since received that report, but he told the Echo Tuesday that he was "very disappointed" with it, but would not elaborate.

Gilligan, who lives in Florida, said that it is now expected that a further meeting would take place, probably in New York.

He said that he had been in correspondence with former Mutual of America CEO Bill Flynn, head of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Corporation, with a view to setting up the meeting.

"I am looking forward to a meeting with Mr. Flynn," Gilligan said.

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