By Ray O’Hanlon
The expected showdown between the top leadership of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the organizers of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade will not take place before this year’s parade.
A deadline of Feb. 15 for a resolution of the issue as to which group should apply for, and operate, the parade permit passed last week without any meetings or action.
However, March 30 is now seen as the likely date for a meeting of parade representatives and Hibernian leaders representing the AOH National and New York state boards.
Additionally, the National Board is requesting that a number of documents dealing with the running of the parade be provided to the national and state boards in advance of the meeting.
The documents that Hibernian leaders would like to see include all financial records, contracts, insurance documents, permits and copies of tax returns.
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"The national and state boards want to have access to these documents so that they can be made available to the national board’s legal counsel," the AOH national president, Tom Gilligan, told the Echo.
Gilligan, along with the national and state boards, wants to see the process of applying for the New York parade permit returned to the AOH’s 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 top Hibernian leaders feel has not been operating under the AOH constitution and bylaws.
At the December meeting at a hotel near New York’s La Guardia Airport, Gilligan set the Feb. 15 deadline for a resolution of the permit matter.
That meeting, according to Gilligan, was prompted by a letter from New York County Board President Dave Kilkenny that sought clarification on the matter of the parade permit and the overall role of the AOH in running the Fifth Avenue event.
At the meeting, Gilligan expressed his desire for a resolution to the question as to which group, parade committee or county board, would be responsible in the future for seeking the parade permit and running the event.
The Feb. 15 deadline set at the meeting was allowed pass largely due to rising expectations of a meeting involving Gilligan, other Hibernian leaders and Bill Flynn, who heads the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade Corporation, the group that the Parade and Celebration Committee says is ultimately responsible for running the parade.
With the late March date now emerging as the expected meeting day, it appears certain that this year’s parade, on Saturday, March 17, will take place entirely under the auspices of the parade committee and its affiliated corporation, with the County Board still confined largely to the wings.
However, Gilligan was quick to point out that it would be a mistake to read too much into a breached deadline.
"2002 will be clearly defined as to the role of the Hibernians in the New York parade," he said.
John Dunleavy, chairman of the Parade and Celebration Committee, told the Echo that he had no comment to make "on meetings with regard to the parade or other matters."