Rockland lawmakers to offer resolution condemning offensive Irish-themed merchandise
Acting on a controversy over a novelty store chain's sales of Irish-themed clothes with vulgar messages, three Rockland County lawmakers plan a resolution at Tuesday night's Legislature meeting asking local merchants to refrain from selling items that some say denigrate Irish culture.
The move repeats a similar resolution passed in the Legislature last year and follows a Friday protest by the Irish heritage group Ancient Order of Hibernians, whose Rockland chapter rallied alongside state Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) to denounce what it called "offensive" merchandise sold by national gift retailer Spencer's, which has a store in the Palisades Center in West Nyack.
Legis. Doug Jobson (R-Stony Point), Patrick Moroney (R-Pearl River) and Ilan Schoenberger (D-Ramapo) are co-sponsoring the resolution, the lawmakers said in a joint statement Tuesday.
The resolution has no legal weight, but Moroney said Tuesday that the sponsors hope to persuade merchants "to be considerate and respectful of the feelings and pride of those of Irish heritage."
"The annual St. Patrick's Day parade is one of the most anticipated events in the county," Jobson said. "Items that demean and ridicule this anticipated event and the Irish culture are hurtful to the dedicated event organizers and to anyone, anywhere of Irish heritage."
The Egg Harbor, N.J.-based Spencer's has drawn the ire of the Hibernians by marketing Irish-themed hats, T-shirts and other clothing items that the group says reinforce Irish ethnic stereotypes with messages such as "Irish Girl Wasted" and "Keep Calm and Drink On." Others contain sexually suggestive messages and profanity.
The legislators said Tuesday that members of the Irish community have been able to persuade some merchants to remove the items from shelves but that some of them have shown up again in the run-up to St. Patrick's Day.
Spencer's has said it has never discontinued sales of the Irish-themed items and has no intention to, citing what it said is the merchandise's popularity among the 18- to 24-year-old age group it primarily markets to.
The meeting, which will be highlighted by Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef's final State of the County address, will take place at 7 p.m. at the Allison-Parris County Office Building at 11 New Hempstead Rd. in New City.