New York says NO

15 Mar

Just yesterday the press reported that 6 members of the PSNI (that’s the Police Service of Northern Ireland for those that don’t know) would be marching alongside representatives of the Irish policeforce in the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade. But at the same time, pressure was being put on the representatives to boycott the march because of a ban on gay/lesbian/bi and transgender groups taking part – something which had caused New York’s very own mayor to boycott the march.

This would have been the first time the PSNI had taken part in the march, and was seen as an important marker of mutual respect between the two Irish forces played out on an international stage. Its worth noting that the Garda and PSNI regularly collaborate on policing matters on the island. Membership of the PSNI currently sits at over 30% catholic.

And then this evening that invitation was rescinded (one imagines at a point where said officers were either in transit, or preparing to jet off to New York).

Screenshot_2014-03-14-23-16-20The climb down (see posting from their Facebook group on the right) states “While the decision to invite the PSNI was made in an effort to foster peace, we must stand behind those who help make our parade the greatest in the world. Therefore we have rescinded the invitation and the PSNI will not march in the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.”

The question then must be asked – just who is it that makes their parade the greatest in the world? Certainly not anyone who isn’t anything other than a declared heterosexual. And seemingly also not anyone who is anything other than Irish through and through – the PSNI discarded because they are ostensibly part of the British police forces, in spite of the peace process, and post-Good Friday Agreement restructuring (ongoing since the late 1990s).

While Northern Ireland continues to attempt to build bridges metaphorical and literal, enter into power-sharing agreements, and establish the right of every citizen in the country to carry both British AND Irish passports and regard their nationality as British, Irish, or BOTH, it seems the rest of the world is playing catch up.

One presumes that those who actually make the New York St Patrick’s Day happen are ex-pat Irish Nationalists – nay, Irish Republicans, or more emphatically, the sort of ex-pat Irish republicans who fully support, endorse and facilitate dissident terrorism. In other words, the sort of people who couldn’t give a shit about those of us who actually live in this country and who just want to go about their daily lives without the threat of some twat with a gun or a ‘viable device’ looming over them.

How many of the so-called Irish taking part in the parade are actually Irish I wonder? How many of them were born on this island, and how many were born in America or elsewhere – and of those Irish-Americans, how many generations back do we have to go before we establish their Irishness? Was it your grand-parents, great-grandparents or more? How diluted is your genetic line? Are you as Mexican or Italian or Polish as you are Irish I wonder? And if you really are so Irish, why the hell are you living your life in America and not back home on Irish soil, working to build the Irish economy with the rest of your Irish brethren? You know Guinness isn’t meant to be green, right? That leprechauns aren’t real? That The Quiet Man is a film about domestic abuse rather than some fictitious Irish idyll? And that Jonny gets killed at the end of Odd Man Out not because he was an Irish republican and the Brits had to do away with him, but because he was a murdering bastard who didn’t give a shit about anyone but himself.

Screenshot_2014-03-14-23-59-55I find it deeply ironic that the organisers of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade have stuck two fingers up at the PSNI representatives because the PSNI are seen as being part of the occupying forces (ie. Britain, who America has an allegiance, and various trade and international policing arrangements with), but at the same time are happy to boast about their special messages from various American soldiers who are occupying other territories, including Col. Houston in Bagram, Afghanistan, and all the boys from the USS Harry S Truman – also engaged in Afghanistan on “Operation Enduring Freedom”. Yeah, Enduring Freedom, exemplified by huge military bases, ships and other military vehicles. They could learn a lot from the PSNI and the British military in Northern Ireland – both of whom have closed down large numbers of stations and barracks.

It is, one has to admit, a very sorry state of affairs. But then should we be surprised from a city that takes its motto from Stan Lee comics? America has prided itself on an image as a tolerant nation, New York a melting pot of nationalities, and welcomer of all. But the reality is, that it is just as bigoted as those people it criticises. I can’t be the only one to see a parallel in language between the New Yorkers and NI’s Orangement, with talk of “our loyal supporters and parade participants”.

Last summer Belfast welcomed representatives from across America including New York’s own police and fire services at the World Police and Fire Games, and our PSNI were there participating and also keeping the visiting participants safe during their time in the city and further afield. And they brought away favourable reports – the “best and friendliest ever“. You see, in spite of the many disputes and issues, and frictions that still exist in this country, there also exists a great warmth and desire to be a positive force. Most of us are able to put our difficulties to one side, especially when it comes to making efforts internationally.

The same is not true of the organisers and supporters of the NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was a Brit too – Romano-British, born most likely in Cumbria, and brought to Ireland by pirates. That he has been adopted as some sort of anti-British, Irish nationalist hero is both preposterous and insulting. If anything, St Patrick stands out as a symbol of the ties between Britain and Ireland – the very epitome of Northern Ireland and the Northern Irish in fact. St Patrick can unify, sadly those who act in his name are more interested in getting drunk than attempting any sort of unification. Shame on you.

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2 Responses to “New York says NO”

  1. Citizen March 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    The New York parade organisers need to look to the origins of their own parade… http://forgedinulster.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/ulster-scots-held-first-st-patricks-day.html

    • avalard March 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Quite agree… I’m sketching a follow-up article which will include discussion of this very point.

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