Organisers of the New York City St Patrick’s Day parade have come under heavy political pressure to reinstate a contingent of PSNI police in Monday’s world-famous parade.
The controversy began early yesterday when news spread within the Irish-American community that the anti-Catholic PSNI would march in the parade alongside members of the 26 County Gardai police.
Following angry protests, a statement appeared yesterday evening on the group’s official Facebook page, rescinding the invitation which it said had been initiated by Dublin government officials.
“Many of our loyal supporters and parade participants passionately advocated against the PSNI’s participation,” the statement read. “The people of New York City have supported our parade for many generations. 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.”
But there were rumours today that the parade organisers are already considering political appeals to reverse their decision and may proceed with the original invitation.
Pro-British lobbyists in New York claimed this morning that parade organisers had merely suffered “jitters” yesterday and are still on course to include members of Britain’s Six-County police force in the world-famous celebration of Irishness.
The status of the invitation to the PSNI still could not be confirmed today, and with less than 48 hours to go before the parade is due to begin, both the organisers’ website and Facebook page have been taken offline.
It is understood that British and Irish officials are continuing to lobby parade officials to allow the PSNI participation to proceed as a form of ‘peace gesture’.
Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have also expressed support for the PSNI’s inclusion in the parade. Adams tweeted that yesterday’s decision “needs rectified”.
Meanwhile, opponents of the PSNI’s inclusion have reinstated their campaign to reverse the decision, and are urging those concerned to get in touch with the New York City Parade Commission at +1 (718) 231-4400.