Mayor Bill de Blasio will march not once, but twice, in this year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The mayor agreed to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade after the Board of Directors invited the Lavender & Green Alliance to march under its own banners in the world’s oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“This March 17th, we will all march together,” the mayor told a crowded press conference at the Irish Consulate on Thursday. “For the first time in decades, the whole Irish community will come together to celebrate.” The mayor said he will march with city police and firefighters at the beginning of the parade and also march later in the day with the Lavender & Green Alliance.
“On behalf of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Board of Directors, it is an honor to welcome Mayor Bill de Blasio and the members of the New York City Council to the 2016 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” said Parade Board member Frank McGreal.
“On March 17th, 200,000 of us march up Fifth Avenue to honor St. Patrick and to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising, the birth of Irish freedom,” McGreal added.
“We remember the brave men and women who stood on the steps of Dublin’s General Post Office and read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. One of the greatest declarations of human rights, this document promises to cherish all the children of the nation equally.”
McGreal welcomed Lavender & Green Alliance founder Brendan Fay and the group to the parade, saying in Irish “Cead Mile Failte — one hundred thousand welcomes.”
Fay responded, “Go raibh cead mile maith agaibh, one hundred thousand thanks.”
Parade chairman John Lahey said he wants the 255th New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade this year to be the “most inclusive parade ever.” The parade’s Grand Marshal is Senator George Mitchell, who brokered the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland. This year’s parade, which is expected to have 200,000 marchers, also marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, which proclaimed Ireland as an independent republic.
The mayor thanked Cardinal Timothy Dolan for his support and credited Pope Francis for his compassionate leadership of the Church, which has shown more acceptance of LGBT Catholics. When asked about his stand on gay priests, Pope Francis did not stray from the Church’s doctrine, but told reporters, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”