Burton to turn down NY parade invitation

Labour deputy leader in city for St Patrick’s Day

 Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton:  expected to turn down an invitation. Photograph: Frank Miller

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton: expected to turn down an invitation. Photograph: Frank Miller

 


Minister for Social Protection and Labour deputy leader Joan Burton is expected to turn down an invitation to take part in the controversial New York St Patrick’s Day parade if she is extended one.

Ms Burton will be representing the Government in the city at the same time as Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Mr Kenny is taking part in the famous Fifth Avenue procession, which does not allow banners or displays for gay causes or gay pride.

The new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, said he would boycott the parade because it excluded recognition to gay and lesbian groups. He is the first mayor in 20 years to do so.

While Mr Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said gay organisations had encouraged Government representatives to take part in the parade, there is now understood to be unease in Labour circles about ignoring Mr de Blasio’s lead.

While it is not clear whether two Government representatives will take part in the parade, Labour sources said Ms Burton would turn down the invitation if one is given to her.

When asked about Ms Burton’s intentions last night, her spokesman said St Patrick’s Day schedule had not yet been finalised, and said scheduling difficulties could yet arise.

However, he added: “As the Taoiseach will be representing the Government at the parade, if the Minister is also scheduled for New York, she would not expect to be attending the parade.”

The spokesman could not say if Ms Burton had been invited to the parade. She participated in the New York parade two years ago, but Mr Kenny was not in the city at the same time.


Inclusive parade
Mr Gilmore and Mr Kenny last week said they would not follow the lead of Mr de Blasio, but Mr Gilmore said his “views on these issues are well known”. “I believe these parades should be inclusive,” he said. “I think it is perhaps time that the organisers had another look at the whole issue of inclusion in these parades.

“The mayor made it very clear it was a personal decision. This is a long-standing parade and it is very much part of the St Patrick’s Day events. The Irish Government has always been represented at it, and that should continue this year.”