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Ald. O'Shea Proposes Harsh Fines For "Idiots" Caught Drinking At South Side Irish Parade

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 1, 2012 2:49PM

Do folks in Beverly really want a return of this? (Photo by Ron Reason.

The South Side Irish Parade successfully returned this year with a more family friendly affair and zero tolerance for the drunken “Chi-rish” antics that led to its three-year suspension between 2009 and 2011.

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th), one of the more pragmatic voices in the debate over the parade’s return, wants to ensure the smooth operation that highlighted this year’s return remains in place and introduced an ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting that would impose strict fines to anyone caught drinking in public within 200 feet of an in-progress parade. O’Shea proposed raising the minimum fine for adults caught drinking on the public way to $500 and doubling the maximum fine to $1,000. The alternative to the fines would be six months in jail. Anyone caught pissing in public near a parade in progress could face similar fines and jail terms of five-to-ten days in jail.

O’Shea’s thinking behind the ordinance was simple—he wants to be sure this year’s parade isn’t a one-time thing.

“This started out back in 1979 as a wonderful community event and, at some point several years ago, it was hijacked from us. I don’t want that to happen again. . .. What those idiots did to our community is not gonna be allowed,” O’Shea said.

“The message . . . [earlier this year] was sent through a very aggressive PR campaign. What I’ve been told in talking to law enforcement officials is, ‘That was great. It was safe. [But] the idiots will come back next year or two years or three years from now.’ Whatever I can do each year to try to keep them away, I’m gonna do. I don’t want to ever relax.”

It could be a Sisyphean effort on O’Shea’s part. Although the security hired by the Parade committee this year was vigilant in cracking down on open containers and public drunkenness, there were a few who slipped through the cracks stumbling down South Western and shouting “Erin Go BAAARRRFFFF!!”

But with one parade behind them O’Shea and the South Side Irish Parade Committee now have a better understanding of each others’ objectives and should be able to work together better.