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New York parade leaders like ships in the night

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John Dunleavy

John Dunleavy

John Dunleavy[/caption]

By Ray O’Hanlon

The two Johns have not spoken since the June 30 conference call that so utterly changed the landscape surrounding the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

But they are likely to meet when parade directors gather late in September for the parade’s annual fall meeting.

They might even meet sooner, but as of this week the newly elected head of the parade corporation, Dr. John Lahey, and the still chairman of the parade and celebration committee, John Dunleavy, are like ships passing in the night.

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Both, however, would appear to be on a firmly set course, one that will result in a meeting or collision.

Dr. Lahey told the Echo that the September meeting of directors would see confirmation of a renewed parade broadcasting contract with WNBC.

It was a group of NBC employees that formed the nucleus last March of the first ever gay and lesbian marching group to take part in the parade with the approval of organizers.

Dr. Lahey said that the directors’ meeting would also include the finalizing of an invitation to a second gay group to take part in the 2016 parade, an event that will be of extra special importance given that it takes place in the 100th anniversary year of the 1916 Rising.

Lahey, who is president of Quinnipiac University, and vice chairman of the parade and celebration committee, said that parade organizers had been working with the Irish government on plans to link the 2016 New York march with 1916 commemorations.

He also said that he would not be standing for re-election to his committee vice-chairmanship now that he is heading the parade corporation, the mandated business and legal arm of the parade organization.

John Dunleavy, meanwhile, said he was planning to attend the September meeting which will likely take place at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan.

Just last week he presided at a meeting in Queens attended by delegates from parade affiliated organizations.

Those in attendance, between ninety and a hundred according to Mr. Dunleavy’s estimate, heard in no uncertain terms his views on the current situation surrounding the parade.

Mr. Dunleavy has made clear his dissatisfaction with what has transpired since the conference call, which did not include his participation even though, according to Dr. Lahey, he was told about it in advance.

Mr. Dunleavy was out of the country when the call took place and described the conference call as little more than the pulling of a stunt.

The parade chairman is unhappy over the way the WNBC gay marching group found its way into the 2015 line of march.

He is unhappy over the renewal of a broadcasting deal with WNBC.

He is unhappy with what he says is his inability to now control in any way the parade’s finances.

He told the Echo that he had retained an attorney and that the attorney had written a letter to Dr. Lahey. As yet there had been no response.

He said that he was now “taking a course of action.”

Next month, Mr. Dunleavy will avail of an opportunity to relay his unhappiness to fellow parade organizers.

“I will attend the meeting,” he said.