Days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foot-in-mouth crack about drunken Irish, some are still green with anger over a stereotype that won’t go away.
“Are we drunks? No, we work hard in New York,” griped Paul Hurley, who hosted a news conference at O’Casey’s, his Irish pub in midtown. “To be labeled that, to be ‘drunks’ – that’s crazy.”
Bloomberg caught flack after a speech he made last Wednesday at the American Irish Historical Society. He told guests that he lives near the society on Fifth Avenue and has seen people “that are totally inebriated hanging out the windows and waving.”
“I know, that’s a stereotype of the Irish,” Bloomberg said. “But nevertheless, we Jews from around the corner think this.”
People in the audience booed, according to some accounts, and Bloomberg the next day clarified that he was talking about St. Patrick’s Day. He also apologized.
Some Irish-Americans chastised the mayor for making “inappropriate” remarks, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and John Dunleavy, chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee.
His mea culpa had some folks taking it all in stride.
“When it comes to this sort of thing, we have a sense of humor,” said John Tully, an Irish immigrant who bartends at Blarney Rock Bar & Grill in midtown.
“I don’t need the mayor to remind me I’m a drunk,” joked Chris Flaherty, 38, of Bayside, as he finished off a pint.
Members of the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners of New York met at O’Casey’s to say that they accept the mayor’s apology and continue to support him. Still, with the 250th anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade a month away, they don’t want visitors to the city thinking New York officials are playing to stereotypes.
Hurley, who’s also the president of the tavern owners group, said he’s received international calls complaining about the quip.
“We are a forgive and forget nation,” added Patrick McCarthy, owner of Nevada Smiths, a downtown bar. “We are not a nation of drunks.”
A spokesman for the mayor said yesterday that he “certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone,” but did not say whether he would reach out to the tavern owners.