By Ray O’Hanlon
While there has been some confusion over the recent election of new members to the board of the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade, there is also now some hesitation in the face of an offer from the board to take on board representatives of the parade’s main affiliated organizations.
One who was offered such a position, John Manning, Secretary of the New York State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, has stopped short of accepting a board seat pending his consultation with fellow Hibernians.
In a letter to parade board chairman Dr. John Lahey, Manning said that he could not accept a board position without AOH “advice and consent.”
Manning, in his letter to Lahey, stated: “I am writing in response to your offer of a Board Seat on the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade Corporation.
“As you know Dr. Lahey, my sole concern has always been that the New York Irish American community, and specifically those units of the Ancient Order of Hibernians that chose to affiliate with the parade, have a democratic voice in the two and half century old institution they created.
“I would not Dr. Lahey levy upon you or the board any requirement that I would not place upon myself. In that spirit, I am sure that you will understand that I cannot accept any position on behalf of the Ancient Order of Hibernians affiliates without their advice and consent.
“As I explained to you and the Board members present at the June 7th, 2017 meeting, our next New York Metro Conference Meeting is scheduled for Saturday September 30, 2017 at which point this shall be put to the Brothers.
“I apologize for this delay, I certainly believe the cloud of controversy has far too long obstructed the parade.
“Democracy at times can be slow, but this is what generations of Irish Americans have sacrificed for as we are reminded every March 17th as the 69th Regiment leads the New York City Parade.
“It is my intention Dr. Lahey to inform you of the Ancient Order of Hibernians affiliates decision to your offer immediately after the September 30th meeting.”
Manning, in addition to being AOH NY State Secretary, is also the order’s New York Metro Conference representative to the parade.
There are 180 affiliated organizations.
Dr. Lahey invited the four leaders of the four major umbrella affiliated organizations to take seats on the board
The four are Mr. Manning, Karen Keane of the New York State Ladies AOH, Katie Barrett of the United Irish Counties Association, and Frank O'Keefe of the Grand Council of Emerald Societies.
In addition to his AOH role, Manning has also been a leading figure in an Ad Hoc group, the CMAO, or Concerned Members of Affiliated Organizations.
The CMAO has held a number of open gathering intended to air concerns over developments and changes in the parade organizational structure over the past couple of years.