By Ray O’Hanlon
The Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization will again be on the sidelines during this year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
But while the group will be protesting its exclusion from the parade for yet another year, it will also be saluting the heroes of Sept. 11.
“We’ll be taking part in the minute’s silence and we will be cheering on the police and fire departments. They are our heroes too,” said ILGO spokeswoman Aine Duggan.
ILGO, however, is expressing disappointment that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be taking part in the Manhattan parade.
The group held a press conference on the steps of City Hall last week prior to a meeting with the mayor’s communications director, William Cunningham. ILGO handed Cunningham a letter to Bloomberg in which the group thanked Bloomberg for turning up at the recent inclusive Woodside/Sunnyside St. Patrick’s parade.
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At the same time, the letter expressed ILGO’s concern over Bloomberg’s plans to march in the Manhattan parade.
“The parade organizers continue to discriminate against the Irish LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual] community by banning them from participating in the parade under their own banners,” the letter stated.
“As long as this ban remains in place, we repeat our request that elected officials and leaders take a stand against homophobia by not participating in the Fifth Avenue parade.”
The letter also requested the mayor’s help in securing a permit for a “brief peaceful protest” against its exclusion from the parade “along a small section of Fifth Avenue” several hours before the 11 a.m. start of the parade.
“As in years past, we have not received a permit,” the letter to Bloomberg said.
Duggan told the Echo that ILGO hopes Bloomberg will deliver a statement on the day of the parade expressing his support for an inclusive parade.
She said that the group’s sidelines protest — which will take place from about 9.30 a.m. a block north and across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral — would include photos of friends and family members who lost their lives on Sept. 11.
“It’s a pity the parade organizers could not have made this the year of an inclusive parade given that it’s a year when we in this city are all so united in grief,” Duggan said.