St Patrick's Day parades get underway across the world

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Enda on a previous St Patrick's Day visit to the US
Enda on a previous St Patrick's Day visit to the US

A longtime ban on lesbian, gay and transgender (LGBT) organisations joining the annual Irish-American march in Boston has been lifted.

It means two homosexual rights groups will march in today’s parade.

Boston Pride, an LGBT rights group, said this week organisers had accepted its application to participate in this year's march through the Irish bastion of South Boston.

The rights group will join OutVets, representing gay veterans, in bringing an end to two decades of debate over the issue.

Meanwhile, the St Patrick’s Day parade in Atlanta passed off without incident last night, despite calls for protests at the presence of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Thousands of people turned out despite local media in Atlanta saying that they had received significant numbers of messages from people calling for protests or boycotts.

Online comments expressed opposition to Mr Kenny's policy on water charges, as well as allegedly racist comments attributed to him in 2002.

But there was no sign of any protests as one of America’s oldest Patrick’s Day parades crawled through the streets with the Taoiseach acting as grand marshal.

The Taoiseach will speak later at technology conference South by Southwest in Texas.

Across the world, and an estimated 30,000 people watched Asia’s largest St Patrick’s Day parade snake through central Tokyo in glorious sunshine on Sunday afternoon.

The city’s Omotesando shopping district was draped in tricolour flags for the day and a cast of floats, Irish dancers, wolfhounds, Irish setters (one dressed as Michael Jackson), and leprechauns entertained the crowds.

A marching band from a local US army base played the music and an energetic team of Samurai warriors, dressed in green, practiced sword fighting for the hour-long event.

And in Sydney, the St Patrick’s Day parade held on the closest Sunday to March 17th enjoyed good weather after a storm ruined last year’s parade.

Over 80,000 people turned out for what is the fourth largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world after New York, Dublin and Boston.

After last year’s washout wiped out 75 per cent of its revenue, the Sydney parade had a debt of AU$107,000 (€ 77,851), which was only recently paid off.

“Thanks to the Irish Government and the Irish community in Sydney for getting us back on our feet again, the debt has been paid off, which is a considerable achievement,” said parade president John Roper.