Guinness back to sponsor New York St Patrick's Day parade

Drinks giant withdrew support of parade due to refusal to allow an LBGT group take part

A bagpipe band makes its way up 5th Avenue  on St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Getty

A bagpipe band makes its way up 5th Avenue on St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Getty

 

Guinness is back as sponsor of the world’s biggest St Patrick’s Day parade.

The drinks giant withdrew its support of the 2014 parade down Fifth Avenue in New York because of the parade committee’s refusal to allow an LGBT group to take part. The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio also pulled out of last year’s parade for the same reason.

The company’s stance was widely applauded within the gay community, but now it appears that the participation of an inclusive gay and straight group has changed minds at Guinness HQ.

However, Irish advocacy groups who have campaigned on the issue for years have expressed disappointment that the group selected to march, OUT@NBCUniversal, is affiliated with the station that broadcasts the parade and does not have any ties to the Irish community in New York.

In a statement, Guinness said: “We are delighted to announce that Guinness has made the decision to resume its sponsorship of the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade.

“While there is still work to be done, we are pleased that the parade organizers have taken steps to allow the LGBT community to be represented. The parade is an important way for Guinness to support the Irish community, and we look forward to celebrating with millions of New Yorkers on March 17.”

Mayor de Blasio has yet to make a decision on participation in this year’s parade and talks have been continuing between his office and the parade committee.

Irish American sources have indicated that the Mayor is unlikely to march given the continuing exclusion of Irish LGBT groups. He said that such a conclusion was “premature”.

In Boston, a Catholic School has withdrawn its marching band and float from the South Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade because of the decision to allow an LGBT veterans group to also march in the parade.

Irishcentral. com reported that a press release issued on behalf of Immaculate Heart of Mary School (IHM), Still Water said: “Saint Patrick stands with Saint Paul in condemning the sin of sodomy...the name of Saint Patrick should be dropped from the parade as he would have nothing to do with the likes of it today.”

The school has taken part in the parade for the past 25 years but felt “compelled by the teachings of the Catholic Church to pull out” as to include “a group openly promoting and proud of its homosexual identity would draw down the ire of this great patron of the Boston Archdiocese”.