NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For many, it’s no laughing matter.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s joke about the Irish and drinking has drawn boos from the crowd.
The mayor tried to explain away his controversial comment Thursday, but the damage was already done, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Get this man a shovel. After recently digging himself out of the city’s controversial response to the Christmas blizzard, the mayor now finds himself digging out from another misstep — making a joke about the “inebriated Irish” at a reception honoring the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The remarks drew a handful of boos and forced the mayor to explain just what he meant about the parade when he said he was used to seeing inebriated Irish hanging out the window of the American Irish Historical Society just around the corner from where he lives.
“I was talking about a party that they have every year on St. Patrick’s Day where they sort of … it’s traditional to hang out the window, to yell and scream and it’s in good fun and I certainly didn’t mean anything that anybody should take offense to,” Bloomberg said.
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But offense they did take.
John Dunleavy is the chairman of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He said he was shocked.
“I couldn’t believe it for a minute. It took me a while … did he really say that?” Dunleavy said with an embarrassed chuckle. “We’ve been trying for many years to get away from that with regards to the parade.”
Even New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a frequent ally of the mayor, chided him for his words.
“Because of the mayor’s long history of support for the Irish community, his remarks last night were both surprising and inappropriate,” Quinn said.
Later Thursday the mayor put out a written statement in which he said: “I apologize. I certainly did not mean to offend anybody.”
“I just wish that I didn’t have to march in the parade. I’d rather be up there with them,” Bloomberg said.
Some Irish-Americans have said the mayor’s remarks were taken out of context. Irish-American radio show host Adrian Flannelly said: “We are a nation of wisecracker. That’s what we do. And it was strictly in that sense.”
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