Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Timmy Dooley TD says he is disappointed that the Tánaiste has snubbed one of the largest St Patrick’s Day parades in the world to avoid a dinner at the Hibernian Society of Savannah.
Deputy Dooley commented: “I find it very disappointing that in the year of The Gathering, the Tánaiste has snubbed the second largest St Patrick’s Day Parade in the USA because he appears to have personal issues with the Hibernian Society.
“Whatever one’s personal views, the Hibernian Society of Savannah has been in existence for over 200 years tending to the needs of thousands of Irish immigrants. Indeed, just last year, the Taoiseach sent the society a video message to congratulate them on their 200 year anniversary. The Society is a part of Ireland’s Diaspora and has been an integral part of the history of the Irish in the southern part of the US.
“I respect the fact that the Tánaiste may have issues with the fact the Society is an all-male grouping, but I believe it was a mistake to snub their St Patrick’s Day dinner.
“The Minister for Foreign Affairs role is bigger than the person who occupies it. The Minister will regularly visit countries with different values to ours or meet leaders whose policies he disagrees with. It is Ireland’s interests that must come first – not the interests of Minister Gilmore or the Labour Party.
“The St Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah will attract a crowd of 500,000 and for the first time in a long number of years, the Irish Government will not have a senior cabinet member representing it. This would have been a fantastic marketing opportunity to promote Ireland. In my view, it represents a failure of judgement and a major opportunity lost.”