Kathryn Conrad, a University of Kansas researcher of Irish literature and culture, said the parade forum itself, on the holiday to celebrate Irish heritage, is an appropriate venue to answer larger questions about public discourse.
Conrad is the author of an essay on the conflict about use of public space beginning in the 1990s as leaders of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, or ILGO, clashed with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who organized the annual parade in New York City and had prevented the group from marching.
“It was all about consumerism in public space, and it seems to me that, regardless of your opinion about the debate itself, the St. Patrick’s Day parade had become more focused on commercial interests and less about politics,” Conrad said. “[Mayor Rudy] Giuliani and others were very insistent that this was not a political parade, but that’s not true because political groups have always marched in the parade. It’s just that people didn’t want it to be controversial, to disrupt their shopping and partying.”
See more on this on the University of Kansas website