Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is scheduled to visit Ireland tomorrow for the first time since he was elected in 2001, may not be able to escape the criticism of United States foreign policy that American officials often encounter when they travel abroad.
Two organizations are planning a “peace vigil” and demonstration tomorrow at a ceremony in Ballymote, County Sligo, where Mr. Bloomberg will help dedicate a national monument to the Fighting 69th, an Irish-American regiment that was acclaimed for its service to the Union during the Civil War.
The demonstrators are not concerned about that war, but rather the conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon. Tim Mulcahy, who belongs to the Sligo branch of the Irish Anti-War Movement, and is an organizer of the protests, said yesterday in a telephone interview that his group was angered by two of Mr. Bloomberg’s positions.
One is the mayor’s endorsement of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who lost his party’s primary on Aug. 8 — in large part because of his support for the Iraq war — and is running, as an independent, for a fourth term. The second is a statement the mayor made on July 17 — days before Israeli troops entered Lebanon — condemning attacks on Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.
“I commend President Bush and his cabinet for their continued support of Israel and its right to defend itself,” Mr. Bloomberg said at the time.
Mr. Mulcahy said: “If you’re an antiwar person, you have to condemn violence on both sides. Mayor Bloomberg has not condemned Israel’s excessive attack on Lebanon.”
The Irish Times reported on Saturday that the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign was also planning to protest the mayor’s visit. Mr. Mulcahy confirmed yesterday the involvement of the pro-Palestinian group, but said the two organizations had separate agendas.
Stu Loeser, the mayor’s press secretary, declined to comment yesterday on the protests. But he said the mayor “was honored to be invited to help commemorate the Fighting 69th and grateful to the people of County Sligo for being so understanding about rescheduling the event.”
The ceremony, first scheduled for July 28, was postponed while the mayor responded to the blackout in western Queens last month and then prepared for the heat wave that blanketed the Northeast earlier this month.
John Perry, a member of the Dáil, Ireland’s lower house of Parliament, who represents County Sligo and helped arrange for the mayor’s visit, said the demonstrators represented fringe groups with minimal local support. “I can tell you there’s no mandate whatever now,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Absolutely zilch.”
Mr. Perry said that the monument — designed by the sculptor Philip Flanagan — is a 7.5-ton column made of limestone and bronze, which honors both the regiment and its most famous officer, Brig. Gen. Michael Corcoran, who died in action in 1863.
Mr. Bloomberg’s visit will not be long. He plans to leave New York tonight and fly back from Ireland tomorrow after the ceremony.
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