An Irishgirl abroad — New York life through a European lens

New York Paddy’s Day pics

Posted in Irish interest by Frieda on March 17, 2010

Irish Queers protesting outside Abercrombie & Fitch.

St. Paddy’s day in New York was surprisingly calm, perhaps because I got to the parade early — and left early. The weather was gorgeous, hitting 60 degrees. At the parade, which runs along 5th Ave. between 44th and 86th Street, the most interesting people were the Irish Queers, who plan to bring a court case against the NYPD and Fire Department for discrimination. Gays can march with other groups, but are not allowed to be openly out at the parade, and activists say this is unfair because other marchers get institutional support.

It’s a way of forcing people into the closet. As Emmaia Gelman, a spokeswoman for Irish Queers, told me: “You can march as long as nobody knows your gay.”

It’s also odd because New York is so, well, gay.

The Irish Queers were friendly folk, so I hope the situation changes soon. The parade would be so much more fun if gays could march, not just protest.

Update: See my report in the Irish Times today.

Paul Rupey, from West Virginia: "I do something weird every year."

Green man. AKA Ryan Higgins, from Rochester. He got a lot of attention from ladies. Perhaps covering up is better than baring all?

The O'Donnell clan from Donegal. I bet they wouldn't be as sartorially daring in Ireland.

Wolfhounds are mascots of the Fighting 69th Brigade.

The solemnities begin.

These guys looked more like mafia to me than marchers.

A protester

Emmaia Gelman, a spokeswoman from Irish Queers

When the mayor et al. walked by, the Irish Queers shouted "Shame, shame, shame, shame."

This was a cute idea.

A feast of puns, not all of them successful

Irish Queers are soon to bring a court case against some City institutions.

Gays are allowed to march in Dublin's Paddy's Day parade.

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Bertie at the Sheraton

Posted in Irish, Irish interest by Frieda on September 27, 2009

Bertie_drinkingThe Sheraton hotel is a strangely shabby place to have a meeting of world leaders. It’s in the Times Square area of Manhattan. TS is beloved of tourists, sure, but to locals like myself its disnified glitter is known as “hell.”

But that’s where Bill Clinton chose to hold his Global Initiative meetings this week. The hotel itself is alright (it gets three AAA stars out of a possible five); a red-carpet led up the entrance steps and inside it was whirring with activity (and security).

The talks included a panel on developing the economic future of Northern Ireland, so I decided to go along. NI, UK and Irish ministers were on the panel. Gerry Adams and other political folk were in the audience, which was apparently full of US CEOs and even Hollywood stars like Martin Scorsese. Bill chaired, with the expected degree of charm and politesse — his jokes were genuinely funny.

It was a presentation, rather than a discussion panel, and the speakers spent most of the time pitching NI’s economic potential to the CEOs (I peered over the shoulder of one, who kept checking his blackberry and answering emails).The funniest, edgiest moment was when NI first minister Peter Robinson spoke of “Londonderry” and his deputy Martin McGuinness corrected him, with “Derry.”

Afterwards I lingered in the lobby, waiting to see who would emerge. RTE’s Charlie Bird flew past in a rush, and at the bottom of the escalator I spotted another familiar figure: former taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. I had never never seen him in the flesh before. His face was surprisingly florid, his body plump, and his eyes flicked around nervously. This is the man who led Ireland for eleven years and was Minister of Finance before that. He took us straight through the Celtic Tiger years before depositing us on the other side, his own affairs embroiled in scandal; and he gave us Cowen.

He was chatting to a middle-aged American woman and looking ill-at-ease. I thought about going up to shake his hand. But at the same time, I thought about the state of Ireland now, the corruption that went unpunished, and the reams of ugly unoccupied houses that scar the country. I wanted to say hello. I just couldn’t do it.

(Note: The photo above shows Bertie in his local pub in Drumcondra, and is from a 2008 article in the Irish Independent, shortly after the taoiseach resigned.)