Sinn Féin pulls out of cross-party video backing parade

A war of words has erupted over Sinn Féin’s withdrawal from a cross-party video supporting New York’s main gay-friendly St Patrick’s Day parade.

The St Pat’s For All parade was organised to rival New York’s biggest Irish-American celebration, which the city’s mayor is boycotting due to its ban on gay groups identifying themselves in the march.

Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power coordinated a cross-party video to back the gay-friendly alternative event, but says Sinn Féin pulled out at the last minute because it did not want to upset its fundraising efforts amongst conservative Irish- Americans.

After Sinn Féin’s LGBT section originally claimed it had not been invited to take part in the video, the party said it withdrew from the project because it objected to being asked to read from a script, and did not want to promote one New York parade above another.

Ms Power accused Sinn Féin of double standards, saying: “They did not take part because they did not want upset their Irish- American fundraising operations. They talk about equality at home, but don’t want anyone in New York to know about it. I wanted it to be an all-party event and the lines in the script were pretty innocuous and I offered to swap things around if they wanted to. Their attitude is bizarre.

Sinn Féin’s equality spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn accused Ms Power of being “dishonest”, as the script provided by her meant: “This was now a video endorsing one St Patrick’s event in New York over another and that the video was clearly not an all-party initiative based on each party’s policies in support of the LGBT community and inclusivity.

“The attempts by Senator Power to misrepresent our party’s reasons for with-drawing are dishonest and disappointing.”

The parade was held last Sunday and attended by New York mayor Bill de Blasio and civil rights activist Rory O’Neill, drag artist, Ms Panti Bliss.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to boycott the main New York parade. Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said she will shun the parade, despite being in New York on the day.


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