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St. Patrick’s Day: Disabled rights activist leads Dublin parade

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and others around the world. (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

A disabled rights activist led the way in Ireland as the St. Patrick’s Day parade made its way through the streets of Dublin.

Parade grand marshal Joanne O’Riordan, who was born without arms or legs, beamed a joyous smile as she steered a special scooter past an estimated 550,000 people lining the route of the parade.

The parade featured giant snakes, several St. Patricks, entertainers and animals dressed in every color of the rainbow, and dollops of irreverent humor. Dublin’s parade is the centerpiece of a four-day festival.

O’Riordan is Ireland’s most prominent disabled rights activist. The 19-year-old already has addressed the United Nations and embarrassed the government into reversing cuts to disabled services.

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12:10 p.m.

A gay activist who has been protesting New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for 25 years says he’s thrilled to be a participant this year.

Brendan Fay of the Lavender and Green Alliance said Thursday he never thought he’d see the day when he could march up Fifth Avenue in the parade with his husband.

After allowing one gay group for the first time last year, organizers opened this year’s lineup more widely to include activists who protested the parade’s ban on displays of gay pride.

Thursday’s parade also honors the centennial of Ireland’s Easter Rising against British rule.

Elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio are joining bagpipers and high school marching bands at the parade.

Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell of Maine is serving as grand marshal. He negotiated the Northern Ireland peace accord.

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11:30 a.m.

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has stepped off under blue skies and with hopes of ending a long-running dispute over gay marchers.

The parade up Fifth Avenue is the nation’s oldest and largest celebration of Irish heritage.

After allowing one gay group for the first time last year, organizers have opened the lineup more widely to include activists who protested the parade’s decadeslong ban on displays of gay pride.

Thursday’s parade also honors the centennial of Ireland’s Easter Rising against British rule.

Elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio are joining bagpipers and high school marching bands at the parade.

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9 a.m.

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin with hopes of closing a long chapter of controversy over including gays in the largest and oldest U.S. celebration of Irish heritage.

After allowing one gay group for the first time last year, organizers have opened the lineup more widely to include activists who protested the parade’s decades-long ban on displays of gay pride.

Thursday’s parade also honors the centennial of Ireland’s Easter Rising against British rule.

Parade board chairman John Lahey has said organizers aim to invoke what he calls “the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit.”

Until last year, organizers said gay people could participate but couldn’t carry signs or buttons celebrating their sexual identities.

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