BOSTON — Massachusetts officials who gathered at Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast Sunday mixed lighthearted political jabs with concern for former Mayor Thomas Menino following his disclosure a day before that he’d been diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer.
Hosting the breakfast for the first time, Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry said it was dedicated to Menino. The event, which featured a video of Menino offering advice to Gov. Deval Patrick about life after politics, could provide much-needed humor to Menino, she said.
“He doesn’t want to turn on the TV and see our long faces,” Forry said.
Some laughs were at the good-natured expense of Forry, who’s the first woman, Dorchester resident and Haitian-American to host the legendary political roast. It had typically been hosted by an Irish-American male senator who represented South Boston.
“Those of you watching at home, do not adjust your television set. There is nothing wrong with the picture,” she joke. “That’s right. I’m a woman.”
There had been uncertainty months ago as to who would be this year’s host. When Sen. Jack Hart left the Senate last year for a private-sector job, Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan stepped in to host the breakfast.
“Those Southie boys didn’t give this breakfast up easily,” Forry said.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren described the tussle as a limerick, in honor of Linehan, who traveled to Limerick, Ireland, rather than attend the breakfast.
“He didn’t get the mike, so he took a hike and flew 3,000 miles to cry in his beer,” she said.
Forry said Boston did well trading Linehan for Enda Kenny, who became the first Irish prime minister to attend the breakfast. And she suggested to Kenny that Ireland might want to keep Linehan as an ambassador. “He’s quite the diplomat,” she said.
Linehan was featured in a video, appearing to be sending his wishes from Ireland, but being “caught” as actually standing in front of Foley’s bar in Boston.
Others attending the breakfast included U.S. Sen. Edward Markey; U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano and Stephen Lynch, himself a former breakfast host; candidates for governor Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker; and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.
Walsh said he had spoken with Menino the night before and that his predecessor sounded a note of confidence about confronting cancer.
“I’ve beaten this before,” he said, according to Walsh.