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Calls to bring “democracy” back to parade

The venue for the meeting was Cathedral High School in Manhattan.

By Aaron Vallely
Bringing back “democracy to the running of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade was a particular focus of participants in a meeting of parade affiliated organizations held even as the parade’s immediate future appeared to be in the hands of the courts as opposed those same organizations.

The recently formed Committee of Concerned Affiliated Organizations held the meeting Wednesday last in Cathedral High School in Manhattan.

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It was chaired by Dennis Grogan and John Manning, both leading members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians though the meeting was not a Hibernian gathering per se.

Between 150 and 180 people were in attendance.

Amongst matters discussed, was the idea of "bringing democracy back to the parade" and including more transparency in how the parade is organized.

The issue of on-going litigation between certain parties was raised, though not discussed in detail.

A case was made for greater accountability on the part of the parade board to the affiliated organizations.

This included the proposal to remove all board members who are not qualified under the criteria and current by-laws. This was met with a round of applause.

Election of the Parade Celebration Committee, Grogan told the attendees, should be by the delegates of the affiliated organizations of the parade.

Using slides as an illustration there was also a case made for the 2017 Grand Marshal to be elected by the delegates of the affiliated organizations of the parade, or at least by a committee created by the affiliates.

There was also what was termed "A Call To Action", whereby affiliates were invited to put some pressure on the board to hold a meeting and discuss these issues.

Affiliates were then invited to ask questions or make comments.

Mr. Martin Kiely, an active member for 40 years, said: "I am glad some people seen what I have seen. Money is what causes problems, and the parade belongs to the people.”

Ms. Eileen Cronin made the point that certain members involved in the litigation deserved to get the credit for their hard earned work and not just criticism.

There were also some critical comments regarding the participation of certain groups in the parade in light of the decision to include gay marching units in the parade.

John Manning made the point that "last year’s decision is what it is, and still stands.”

Afterwards, Dennis Grogan said that "when all is said and done, the parade belongs to the people and the groups that make it up, and that is why we are holding this meeting.”

John Manning stated that many people were very frustrated with the situation surrounding the parade and were trying to address these concerns in a fair, open, and transparent way.