Daily News - Ayes to Irish smiles
Ian Paisley, firebrand Protestant and former Catholic-basher, at the head of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade? Along with the equally-volatile-of-reputation Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander? Well, miracles do happen.
Consider, for example, the fact that after centuries of political division and decades of bloodletting between Catholic and Protestant fighters, there now exists in Northern Ireland a power-sharing government. With Paisley as first minister and McGuinness as his deputy.
When word of that came down, a hockey rink opened in hell.
Now, Niall O'Dowd, publisher of the Irish Voice, has floated the brilliant suggestion that McGuinness and Paisley share honors as grand marshals of next year's parade. 'Tis a wonder that would be. A grand gesture of solidarity. A statement to the world about peace and proof that even the bitterest of enemies can overcome differences for the greater good. And the heavens would open and choirs of angels would sing and ... hey, you never know.
Rep. Pete King thinks it's "a great idea" and a way to show that Irish America is committed to the results of the peace movement in Ulster. But neither King nor O'Dowd runs the parade. Neither does the national Ancient Order of Hibernians, insisted its president, Jack Meehan, who said that, "on the surface," he "wouldn't have any problem" with the McGuinness-Paisley concept. But he said he would need more specifics, which is fair enough.
The dark cloud on the horizon is John Dunleavy, president of the St. Patrick's Day Parade organizing committee, who does actually run things (to the point of last year insulting the FDNY by pushing it back in the line of march). Speaking of Paisley and McGuinness as grand marshals, Dunleavy said, "Absolutely not."
But he noted, "They're more than welcome to march."
Now, that's an earth-shattering idea in itself. See, miracles do happen. We hope for another.