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Linehan to skip St. Patrick’s parade for Ireland trip

City Council leader invited to Ireland

Bill Linehan hosted the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast in 2013.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Bill Linehan hosted the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast in 2013.

Boston City Council president Bill Linehan announced Wednesday that this St. Patrick’s Day he will be far away from his home in South Boston. He will be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Limerick, Ireland.

In September, Linehan became embroiled in a controversy over who should have the right to host South Boston’s famed St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. Last March, Linehan served as interim host, but was reluctant to hand over hosting duties for this year’s breakfast to Linda Dorcena Forry, the newly elected senator for the First Suffolk Senate District.

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The breakfast has traditionally been hosted by the sitting senator from that district, and since 1940 that position had been held by a politician from South Boston. Linehan stepped in to host after Jack Hart abruptly resigned that Senate seat, which had become known as “the Southie seat.” But after Dorcena Forry, a Haitian-American from Dorchester, won the special election to fill Hart’s seat, Linehan argued that he should remain as host because Dorcena Forry was not from South Boston.

Two days after the controversy came to light, Linehan reversed his position and said Dorcena Forry would host and that he would work with her to “present a quality event that makes us all proud.”

But Linehan’s office issued a press release Wednesday saying that Mayor Kathleen Leddin of Limerick had personally invited him to “experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to participate in the Limerick parade. According to the release, Linehan hosted dignitaries from Limerick during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in South Boston last year.

Linehan declined to be interviewed, but in the release, he said: “The City of Limerick is a very special place. It is a true honor to be personally invited to participate, as a civic leader, in these events.”

Dorcena Forry issued a statement saying she understands that Linehan has a history with Limerick, but that she was “looking forward to having council president Linehan not only join me at the breakfast, but also play a role in the event.” Forry went on to say “I’ve already heard from many of my colleagues in government, who are excited to join me on March 16th and look forward to hearing from many more, as we continue to distribute invitations to all local elected officials.”

In Limerick, Linehan is slated to sit in a VIP section during the city’s International Band Parade on March 16, then march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade the following day.

Linehan’s statement describes the councilor as “a noted supporter of the city of Limerick,” and says he will tour the city’s Southill Junior School during his time on the Emerald Isle and present the school a check from the Southill Children’s Fund, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting education in that impoverished section of southern Limerick.

Ledden, the Limerick mayor, is quoted as saying she is delighted to have Linehan as a part of her city’s festivities. “The close links that exist between Limerick and Boston have continued to grow and flourish over the years and I have no doubt that this visit will further strengthen these ties,” she said in the release.

Billy Baker can be reached at billybaker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.
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