In the second furor to erupt over this year's St. Patrick's Day parade, six wheelchair-bound children have been banned from joining the Fifth Avenue march, a lawyer for the youngsters said Thursday.
"They were turned away last year, and when they tried to attend this year, the parade organizers told them, `You can't come if you can't walk,' " said the lawyer, Peter Johnson Jr., who is appealing the ban.The handicapped children were banned from the march a day after the parade committee came under fire for refusing to let a homosexual group join the parade.
Johnson said hero cop Steven McDonald, who is paralyzed from the neck down, has vowed to stay away from the parade if the event organizers refuse to let the wheelchair-bound youngsters join in the march up Fifth Avenue next Saturday.
He said the disabled children, mostly Long Island residents who range in age from 6 to 13, asked for permission to join the march after seeing McDonald participate and were "hurt" by the parade committee's rejection.
"The Irish-American community has been the victim of prejudice in the past, and it's sad and almost frightening that the community is perpetrating prejudice against its own members. They should know better," he said.
Johnson said he has asked the parade committee to reconsider the ban.
The organizers of the march were not available for comment.