By Bill Kirk
---- — LAWRENCE — About 300 people gathered at the Relief’s Inn on Market Street yesterday for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, complete with ribs and roast.
And they also eat corned beef and cabbage and quaffed a few glasses of beer.
The ribs, or ribbing, came in the form of some good-natured jokes and jabs aimed at area politicians, in some cases by area politicians. It was like a comedy roast, with multiple targets.
After recognizing most of the Lawrence City Council present, one of the emcees of the event, Tom Cuddy, began roasting his boss, Police Chief John Romero.
“The chief just reached a new landmark,” Cuddy said. “As of Wednesday, he’s been on TV more than Walter Cronkite.”
Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, ribbed his opponent in the last election, Republican Paul Adams, saying that he gave the former one-term state representative and Senate candidate a permission slip to attend the event, but that his parents wouldn’t sign it so he couldn’t attend.
Also not attending was Mayor William Lantigua, who has now missed it two years in a row. Instead, representing city leadership was City Council president Frank Moran.
Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn was also on the program, but was unable to attend.
The event started promptly at around 12:30 p.m., with the traditional march of dignitaries to the front table, including Register of Deeds Paul Iannucello, Methuen Democratic state Representative Diana Dizoglio, Irish Consul General to Boston Michael Lonergan, Irish minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan, Canadian Consulate Patrick Binns, Lawrence Democratic state Representative Marcos Devers, and Finegold.
Also in attendance was Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni, former Methuen mayor Bill Manzi, and June Black, who works for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, who was unable to attend. On behalf of Tsongas, Black handed out several Congressional certificates to honorees and award winners.
In addition jokes and songs, including some Irish ballads by Cuddy as well as Colie Ryan, owner of the Claddagh and the Irish Cottage in Methuen, there were several awards and recognitions granted to several people in the crowd.
Rene Roy, president of the Central Catholic School in Lawrence, was given the Judge John E. Fenton Citizenship Award.
“This is totally out of the blue,” he said. “Especially for a French-Canadian.”
He said that when he was a Boy Scout, he never got the citizenship merit badge.
“I had to wait 50 years to get this handed to me,” he said, to wide applause.
Also sitting at the front table were various dignitaries of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, including Rev. William Waters, the AOH Division 8 chaplain, William Sullivan, president of AOH Div. 8, who also served as emcee for the early part of the event, and Anne Marie Doherty, president of the LAOH Division 8. Also sitting at the front table was the Rev. CArlos Urbina, pastor of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Parish.