Donate to Hate - More lies from the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee

The Irish Echo recently ran an article about how the NYC St. Patrick's Day Committee "needs a helping hand" and is launching an online donation drive. Like every other nonprofit on the planet, the parade committee is bracing itself for a decrease in donations due to the economy.

But in true AOH fashion, the committee is using manipulation and lies in its plea for donations for their annual procession of religious bigotry. They claim the parade is completely funded by individuals, or as they say in their fundraising letter, "completely funded by donations from generous people just like you." This is not entirely true. In a 2007 article published by the Irish Examiner USA, John Dunleavy bragged about the parade committee's links to corporations:

Dunleavy credits his good friend, the late Jim Barker, for bringing in sponsorship for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which costs between $600,000 - $700,000 to run annually. The figure includes $300,000 for the TV air time, $23,000 for the reviewing stands on Fifth Avenue, as well as permits, sashes, port-o-potties, painting the green line up Fifth Avenue, and other expenses. Until a few years ago, Dunleavy ran the whole operation out of his home. The committee now has a small office in the Bronx and hired an administrative assistant to handle things as the parade continues to increase in size.

"Jim was a master salesman, a modern day PT Barnum," Dunleavy said. "A number of years ago, WPIX-TV, which had broadcast the parade for 35 years, cut back the hours because they couldn't sell the ads. We decided to switch to WNBC-TV, which made it easier to sell the sponsorships. We buy the time, hire our own producer, Mike Mathies, and control the content. Major supporters include Quinnipiac University, Guinness, and Ford Motor Company."

"Jim went to Villanova with Jim O'Connor, an executive at Ford. The Guinness sponsorship is a natural one," Dunleavy explained. "We are fortunate that Frank Comerford, president of WNBC, is on the board of the St. Parade's Parade Committee. In order to get work done, you need a combination of Irish and Irish Americans."

So what is really going on here? Buying air time? Selling sponsorships? It's hard to tell. According to the parade committee's 2007 990, they raised $96,265 in direct public support (translation: from generous homophobic people like you, including foundations and corporations). They raised $388,000 in indirect public support (translation: from other organizations like colleges, AOH chapters and Catholic churches).

In addition to the sponsors mentioned by Dunleavy to the Irish Examiner, other corporate sponsors of the parade include: Yonkers Raceway, CelticBrands.com, The Padded Wagon, Turtle Wax, and US Bank Irish Connections Visa Card.

During the last decade, the parade has had its financial integrity questioned by both AOH insiders and outsiders. In 2001, the New York Times ran an article on William J. Flynn's resignation as president from the parade committee. One of the main reasons mentioned in the article for his resignation were around financial transparency. In 2002, former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer investigated the parade committee's finances. It was alleged that the late Jim Barker and his public relations firm accepted payments from the Ford auto company for parade advertising instead of making payments to the nonprofit entity.

To top it all off, the fundraising plea on one of the parade committee's websites mentions that the city "offers no financial subsidies to the Parade despite the fact that the City take (sic) in millions of dollars in tax revenue from Parade participants."

Well AOH folks, this is the price you pay for having a private, religious procession down Fifth Avenue (a public space) on March 17th. We still have a separation between church and state, and the City has anti-discrimination laws, so your discriminatory event should not be entitled to any financial subsidies.

With the passing of Proposition 8 in California, much attention is being paid to the Mormon Church and other groups that invested so heavily in homophobia. This ridiculous fundraising plea in the Irish Echo has re-reminded us to step up following the homophobic money floating around the Irish American community sponsoring this discriminatory parade.