John Dunleavy has stepped down as parade and celebration committee chairman.
By Ray O’Hanlon
The New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade saga took a new turn this week, or indeed several turns.
On Monday, longtime parade and celebration committee chairman, John Dunleavy, took leave of his post after 22 years.
Dunleavy had previously indicated his intention to step down, but at the moment of his own choosing.
That moment came on Monday evening.
Dunleavy was succeeded by attorney John Tully, who was elected by members of parade affiliated groups meeting in Antun’s of Queens.
Tom Beirne, son of Dunleavy’s predecessor, the late Frank Beirne, was elected vice-chairman at the meeting which was attended by an estimated 150 delegates.
Across the East River in Manhattan, the parade’s board of directors, chaired by Dr. John Lahey, was holding a meeting at the Metropolitan Club.
That meeting was attended by invited representative of key parade affiliated groups, the AOH, LAOH, Emerald societies and county organizations.
The directors have been moving in recent weeks to change the bylaws of the parade and to reshape how the parade is run and structured.
The Antun’s gathering did not fit in with that plan.
Asked how the board viewed the Queen’s meeting, a spokesman for the board of directors said that pending resolution of litigation (a reference to a Bronx court case taken against John Lahey by John Dunleavy) the board could not discuss issues of parade governance beyond looking at how it can go ahead with reform.
The board, said the spokesman, was “confident” that it would be, post lawsuit, able to work with parade affiliated organizations towards a satisfactory resolution.
Whether that happens will depend heavily on what courses John Lahey and John Tully take in the coming days.
The Lahey-chaired board has been sending out letters to parade marching groups inviting them to apply to march in the 2016 parade.
The deadline for responses is December 15.
In past years, however, it has been the parade and celebration committee that has applied to New York City for the parade permit.
That function would have been handled by parade committee secretary Hilary Beirne, a distant cousin of Tom Beirne.
Hilary Beirne is now working with Dr. Lahey and the board of directors.
John Tully, meanwhile, is a widely respected member of the community. A Brooklyn native, he earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame.
He is a past president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 7, a member of the Knights of St. Patrick and served as an aide to the grand marshal for the 2014 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Presently, Mr. Tully is of counsel in the New York office of the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. In earlier years he was an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, a trial attorney in the New York Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and an assistant attorney general in the Organized Crime Task Force of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
Interestingly, many have feared an intervention by that office in the parade’s affairs following an audit of parade finances initiated by the board and revelations of questionable spending of parade funds by Mr. Dunleavy.
Mr. Dunleavy has since defended certain expenditures and has offered to pay back any sums if this is deemed necessary.
Against the backdrop of all this there is, as yet, no grand marshal for the 2016 parade.
This time last year Cardinal Timothy Dolan had been declared grand marshal for the 2015 march.
And the question inevitably arises: who will choose the 2016 grand marshal and when?