Longford’s mayors have confirmed they will not be travelling to New York to particpate in the city’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations this year.
The annual trip to the USA had become a regular fixture on the mayoral calendar, and other counties will be sending delgations to attend this year’s parade in New York, which is the largest in the world.
However, when contacted by the Longford Leader, Co Longford Mayor, Cllr Larry Bannon revealed he will not be making the Stateside trip.
“Unfortunately, it just didn’t suit me to go this year,” he said, before adding, “I’ve spoken to [Deputy Mayor] Frank Kilbride, and unfortunately he is unable to attend also.”
Cllr Bannon concluded by saying, “as far as I know, no one from the executive is going”.
Last year, Cllr Bannon’s predecessor and Fine Gael party colleague, Cllr Sean Farrell made the journey and was present at the County Longford Association of New York’s annual dinner dance. Members of the council’s executive, including County Manager Tim Caffrey, also attended.
Meanwhile, Longford Town Mayor Paul Connell also confirmed he will be staying in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day, saying “it’s been a few years” since the local authority sent a delegation.
“When I was mayor of the county I stayed at home, too,” he continued. “I’ll be on the stand to watch the parade in Longford on Monday.”
Cllr Connell admitted, though, that the decision not to travel “may not go down well” with expatriots.
Responding to the decision, dual mandate councillor Peggy Nolan was forthright in her view that Longford should be represented in New York.
“It’s not the populist thing to say,” she conceded, “but every other county will have their mayor there. The links we have built need to be kept strong.
“It’s an investment in our diaspora, telling them that we welcome the links they maintain with their native county.”
Cllr Nolan went on to claim that the move is a “retrograde step” and that, “you cannot buy the goodwill a mayor can bring by attending the parade in New York”.