The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast is one of the city’s most enduring political traditions, and it needs to be an occasion for celebrating not just the community’s past but also its bright future. The recent spat about who will host the event risked derailing this breakfast by focusing on petty distinctions as opposed to the neighborhood it aims to celebrate.
For generations, the emcee at the breakfast has been the state senator representing South Boston — a position that has historically been held by Irish-American men. The current senator from the First Suffolk Senate district is Linda Dorcena Forry, a Haitian-American woman from Dorchester, and according to informal but long-standing precedent, she should be the event’s host. But the Globe reported Friday that City Councilor Bill Linehan, who emceed the event last year while the state Senate seat was vacant, wanted to do so again. His rationale was that the event is a celebration of Southie’s heritage. But regardless of where Dorcena Forry lives, she still represents the neighborhood in the State House, and she certainly understands South Boston’s unique history. Many of the city’s key political figures agreed and quickly rallied to her side.
Fortunately, the issue was resolved quickly. In a joint statement Friday evening, Dorcena Forry and Linehan said she would host, with significant input from him.
This is a sensible outcome. South Boston’s Irish-American community has been a vital force in the neighborhood, and this legacy should be celebrated in the breakfast. But Southie has outgrown the ethnic divides that defined Boston during its worst days. With Dorcena Forry as host, this event should reflect this new reality.