The parade, which first took place in 2000, will step off at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, in Sunnyside.
The parade will this year pay special tribute to the late Phillip Berrigan. Parade organizer Brendan Fay called Berrigan “the Martin Luther King of Irish America with a message for this time of war and terror.”
Family and friends of Berrigan, including his brother Fr. Dan Berrigan, are expected at the parade, Fay said.
Unlike the March 17 parade in Manhattan, the Queens event welcomes the participation of gay and lesbian groups marching under their own banners.
“The parade continues the spirit of hospitality and welcome that made the 2000 parade such a historical breakthrough,” Fay said.
Parade co-chair Barbara Ann Heffernan Mohr said the parade would reflect the diversity of the Irish and Queens community with nearly 100 contingents expected to take part.
The parade starts at 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue. Details at www.stpatsforall.com or call (718) 721-2780.
MASKEY HUB VISIT
Belfast Mayor Alex Maskey was on schedule Tuesday to meet with New York mayor Michael Bloomberg despite the city’s snow emergency.
The snow, however, put paid to Maskey’s plans to visit Boston Monday. Maskey had flown into New York Sunday ahead of the storm that struck the Northeast and was due to travel from the city to Boston for his first engagement on what is now a slightly shortened 10-day, 10-city tour.
In a statement issued before his meeting with Bloomberg, Maskey said that the people of Belfast continue to take a keen interest in New York.
“It has been a destination of so many of our forbears, a place of opportunity and success,” he said. “We consider it still a dream city.”
Maskey paid personal tribute to Bloomberg, saying the mayor had distinguished himself by the evenhandedness of his leadership and the courage of his decision-making.
“I am pleased to be the bearer of our best wishes,” Maskey said.
The Maskey trip’s objective is to expand a Friends of Belfast network in the U.S. Friends of Belfast is an economic development initiative designed to attract business to the city. New York is already part of the network as are Boston, Pittsburgh and Denver.
AER LINGUS RESUMES
FLIGHTS TO U.S.
Aer Lingus was scrambling this week to accommodate passengers after the President’s Day blizzard forced cancellations of Ireland-bound flights out of New York and Boston.
It’s looking reasonable for Tuesday night,” Brian Murphy, the carrier’s executive vice president for sales North America, said.
Murphy said that the airline would attempt to accommodate passengers from the canceled Monday flights on Tuesday, while most would be able to avail of an extra flight out of New York’s Kennedy airport on Wednesday.
“Some will get out tonight, while the rest will get out on Wednesday,” Murphy said Tuesday morning.
Some people had canceled their flights while there was also “a heavy no-show factor” in situations such as prevailed during and after the blizzard, Murphy said.
TOP POLICE EMERALD
Deputy Chief Michael Collins has been chosen as the NYPD Emerald Society Irishman of the year.
Collins, the department’s deputy commissioner for public information, will be feted by the society at its 50th annual dinner dance on Friday, Feb. 28, at Leonard’s of Great Neck.
Emerald Society president Ed Connolly said that the society was delighted to honor Collins in what was a landmark year.
AHERN ON SHANNON
Rep. Peter King is advising the Irish government to hang tough and continue to allow Shannon to be used by U.S. troops bound for the Persian Gulf.
“I think the Irish government has been pretty good on this issue,” King said this week.
He said he was less impressed with the nature of protests in Ireland against the U.S. use of Shannon.
King, who has been outspoken in support of President’s Bush’s policy toward Iraq, has been giving a number of issues of interviews to the Irish and British media in recent days.
“I was on a talk show on RTE radio and a lot of calls came in attacking me, many of them from French and Germans living in Ireland,” King said. “The moral arrogance of many who are against the U.S. really bothers me. Where were all these people when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan?
GETS 500K FROM CONGRESS
The U.S.-Ireland Alliance is in line for a big financial boost from Congress.
Congress last week passed the Omnibus Appropriations Resolution and it included a provision recommending that the Department of State provide $500,000 to the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program.
The program is administered by the US-Ireland Alliance.
According to the Alliance, nearly 50 members of Congress from both parties supported the initiative.
The funding recommendation was initially launched in the Senate by Sen. Ernest Hollings, the Sputh Carolina Democrat, while New York Reps. Peter King, a Republican, and Democrat Joe Crowley initiated support in the House of Representatives.
“We are grateful for this support, especially for the large number of members involved and the bipartisan nature of this support,” the president of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, Trina Vargo, said in a statement. “Sending future leaders of this country to the island of Ireland will greatly enhance the future of this relationship.”
Vargo has recently been involved in a trans-Atlantic spat with Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and other members of his party who have called into question the alliance’s bipartisan nature and its overall political bona fides.
Should the congressional money be signed into law by President Bush, it would mark the first U.S. government contribution to the Mitchell program.
The Irish government helped launch the program with $3 million in 1999 and annual funding is provided by the British government, two anonymous donors and a number of commercial and corporate sponsors.