The Warring of the Green

William Flynn as grand marshal.

By Irish America Staff
October / November 2001

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the last major celebrations left to the Irish in America, has come under a barrage of criticism these past years; from ILGO, the Irish Gays and Lesbian Organization, who have protested their right to march, and also from local Irish newspapers, who have been denied the line of march, which went instead to The New York Post, known for its anti-Irish bias.

Enter William Flynn, Chairman of Mutual of America, and a man known for helping broker peace in Northern Ireland. As president of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc., the committee who run the parade, Flynn sought to right the wrongs of the past and end the bad publicity, which has become an annual trademark of the event.

However, as the old adage goes, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, and Flynn met with “stubborn resistance” from the Committee’s secretary-directors, James Barker and John Dunleavy.

Flynn found that his attempts to view and make public, the basic records of the parade would be “long and torturous,” and he resigned as president on August 15.

His attempts to review fundamental corporate records: the charter, last year’s financial statement, to hold an audit, and to see something as simple as a list of officers and directors, were “stonewalled” by Barker, who gave the committee’s accountant directions to keep such information specifically out of Flynn’s hands.

Stating that there are “increasingly troubling signs of possible irregularities” with respect to the corporation’s financial statements and its compliance with IRS requirements, Flynn called for Barker’s resignation, and the return of the Parade to the jurisdiction of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

A former grand marshal of the parade, Flynn says that he remains committed to the 250-year old event, and has pledged his support to the AOH and will, if called upon, help them in their setting up a new group to organize and run the parade. ♦

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