Category: Archive

Parade groups face line of march gag

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon Groups getting ready to take part in the upcoming New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade have been pledged to secrecy over their exact place in the line of march. However, many marching units are already defying the pledge which was apparently drawn up by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee. The reason in part for this defiance is that the Echo is offering free space to groups who want to highlight their assembly locations and marching times for the big March 17 gathering on Fifth Avenue. And many are taking advantage of the offer which has been highlighted over the last couple of weeks by full page ads in the paper. “Most of the county organizations have already told us that they want to be included in the Echo’s parade list,” said Echo Advertising Director Barry Lynch. Representatives from all the affiliated organizations, including Irish county associations, had gathered at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan last week to obtain the information necessary for stepping off on time and in the right order. But they were also presented with a surprise document for signing before they could receive their instructions. The document, according to various individuals who were present at the NYAC, amounted to a promise not to divulge each group’s slot in the line of march, a listing that was for decades published free in the Irish Echo and more recently in the Irish Voice, but which has been published as part of an advertising supplement for the last three years in the New York Post. The document stated that the person who signed on behalf of any organization or association understood that the parade information received regarding the line of march was copyrighted and could not be disseminated, used or given to any newspaper without the explicit consent of, or permission from, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration Committee. The committee has taken the view in recent years that the two main Irish weeklies have been hostile to the parade organizers. There have also been reports that the committee views the papers, both Echo and Voice, as being anti-Catholic, a suggestion that was strongly denied on behalf of the Echo this week by Echo publisher Claire O’Gara Grimes. “Oh please. If the Echo was anti-Catholic we would not have been able to present our Famine Remembrance Symphony concert in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997, an event at which the late Cardinal O’Connor made an appearance, and which featured the Cathedral’s choir and orchestra,” Grimes said. “Literally for decades, the Irish Echo printed the line of march as a free public service for the Irish American community. Since this information has been withheld from this newspaper the last several years, we have been inundated with calls around each St. Patrick’s Day as people try to find out where specific marching groups are located in the line,” Grimes said. “To continue our tradition of service to the community, the Echo is this year requesting information from marching groups as to where they are assembling and where they are scheduled to appear in the parade line-up. Where this information can be verified, it will be appearing in our March 14 issue,” Grimes said. Parade committee chairman, John Dunleavy, said he had “no comment at all” on the matter of any pledge aimed at keeping confidential the line of march for the upcoming parade.

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