Updated at 2.24pm
A ROW HAS erupted between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin over an ‘all party’ video message endorsing a New York St. Patrick’s Day parade that bills itself as an alternative to the main event in Manhattan on 17 March.
Senator Averil Power of Fianna Fáil planned the recording of a video supporting the organisers of the ’St Pat’s For All’ parade in the Queens area of New York, which was held on Saturday.
A Sinn Féin senator had been due to take part alongside TDs and senators from Labour, Fine Gael and the Technical Group — but he pulled out at the last minute after a dispute over the wording of the message.
(Youtube: Karl Hayden)
The cross-party initiative was organised in the wake of the controversy generated by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pulling out of the traditional Fifth Avenue parade in Manhattan. The newly elected mayor made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic over his decision not to take part, due to organisers’ ban on participants displaying pro-LGBT messages.
Power told TheJournal.ie she thought the Oireachtas should send a positive message to New York, stressing that the Fifth Avenue event organisers’ views did not reflect those of the Irish people as a whole.
She sent an email to Sinn Féin Justice Spokesman Padráig McLochlainn on Monday asking the party to take part. McLochlainn agreed to do so, and asked Senator Trevor Ó’Clochartaigh to represent them at the video shoot last Thursday.
However, Ó’Clochartaigh raised an issue with the wording of the script — and after speaking again to McLochlainn on the day of the shoot, the party decided against taking part.
A Twitter row broke out last night after the film-maker who shot the video raised the issue of Sinn Féin’s non-participation…
Speaking today, Power speculated that Sinn Féin may have been concerned at the video’s potential impact on the organisation’s Irish-American donor base.
“I think they need to clear as to what their position is,” Power said. “Do they have one policy here and another abroad?”
However — contacted by TheJournal.ie, Padráig McLochlainn rejected any suggestion that the party was worried about how the video would be perceived.
“What happened was that about an hour before the recording Trevor sent me a copy of the script we had been given.
“While it had been presented as a cross party message, it was clear from the script that this was messages from individual parliamentarians and would be represented as such.”
McLochlainn said his party supported most of what was said in the video, but didn’t want to be seen as supporting one St. Patrick’s Parade over another.
He said the party had asked Power to change the script in light of its concerns, but that the Fianna Fáil senator had refused.
Organisers of the ‘St Pat’s For All’ event encourage LGBT-rights groups to march in their parade, which is billed as being “welcoming to all who wish to share in the spirit of the day”.
Ney York Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the weekend event, saying it represented “what New York city is all about”.
UPDATE: Averil Power gave us a call after this story was posted to say that she was never asked by Sinn Féin to change just one sentence, and that she was told the party had pulled out because they disagreed with the message as a whole.
The Senator said she hadn’t intended to turn the issue into a party political row, but felt she had to intervene after Sinn Féin’s LGBT group said on Twitter that the video shoot had been organised without the party even being informed.
First posted at 1.27pm