Dr. John Lahey
By Ray O’Hanlon
Leaders of the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade were moving quickly this week to rebut fears that future parades will be less tied to long held traditions and beliefs.
“There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about,” Parade Corporation Chairman, Dr. John Lahey, said Tuesday.
As Lahey sought to counter the views and beliefs behind a petition calling on parade leaders not to rescind a series of longstanding parade bylaws, it was understood that lawyers representing the parade board, and parade committee chairman, John Dunleavy, were in court arguing over a planned board meeting in Manhattan called by Dr. Lahey for this Thursday.
Dr. Lahey said he believed the meeting would go ahead as planned despite the court argument.
The petition is being organized by a group of members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and parade affiliated organizations who have expressed fears for the future of the parade.
Dr. Lahey sought to assuage those fears stating that among the articles that would not be up for scrutiny at the meeting was the very first one in the parade’s book of bylaws.
It states: “The purpose for which the corporation is formed shall be to organize and conduct a parade along Fifth Avenue in the City of New York or March 17th of each year to honor St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and of the Archdiocese of New York and to apply for and hold any permit, license, authorization or any other certification as may be necessary or convenient to the foregoing purpose.”
Another article, recognizing the relationship between the AOH and the parade, and requiring two AOH members and one LAOH member to be a member of the parade board of directors was, similarly, not up for discussion.
Dr. Lahey said there was no intention on the part of parade directors to bring about a “secular parade.”
Changes were simply being proposed in the organization of the parade and in the language of certain articles, Lahey indicated.
New replacement language for the articles would be proposed, but at this juncture the board was only meeting to consider possible changes.
“There is a lot of misinformation as to what we might or might not do,” he said.
Lahey also said that parade affiliated groups would have a role in future parades, but precisely how this would take effect was a matter for future meetings.
He said he had no personal interest in running the parade. Rather, his task was to run the board.
The Thursday meeting would be considering the creation of two new board positions with those filling them being charged with running the annual march in all its myriad detail.
Lahey said the plan was to eliminate the positions of parade committee chairman, held for over 20 years by Mr. Dunleavy, and parade vice chairman, held for most of the same time by himself.
The two new posts replacing chairman and vice chairman would be Co-Chief Operating Officer/Chief Administrative Officer and Co- Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer.
The bylaws, said Dr. Lahey, dated back over 25 years and needed to be looked at with a view to placing the parade on a secure footing for the future.