Irish official criticizes exclusion of gays from St. Patty’s parade

Ireland’s foreign minister criticized organizers of New York’s St. Patrick’s parade for excluding gays from

In a historic meeting with Irish gay groups in New York City on March 16, Eamon Gilmore said equality and inclusion were part and parcel of the Irish identity.

“What these parades are about is a celebration of Ireland and Irishness. I think they need to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it. Equality is very much the center of who we are in our identity in Ireland,” Gilmore said.

“This issue of exclusion is not Irish, let’s be clear about it,” Gilmore continued. “Exclusion is not an Irish thing. … I think that’s the message that needs to be driven home.”

Gilmore made the statements during a meeting at the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue to hear the concerns and suggestions of gay Irish leaders.

The Irish Voice reported that issues raised at the meeting included the need for LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, the need for full marriage equality and a request for government help in mediating the longstanding exclusion of Irish gay groups from marching with their own banners in Manhattan’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

Gilmore said the new coalition government he represents is committed to holding a convention that will draw up a new constitution for Ireland that will address same-sex marriage.

“Ireland has changed,” he said. “It was not that long ago that homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland. … For the majority of Irish people, being gay is no longer an issue. That’s not to say that there isn’t resistance – I expect that if we come to the point of same-sex marriage at the convention of course the extreme right will push back against it. But issues of equality are issues that have to be taken on.”