NY mayor boycotts St Patrick's Day parade over gay pride ban
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's possible participation in the New York St Patrick's Day parade is in the spotlight, after the Big Apple's mayor said he was boycotting the event over the exclusion of gay activists.
The newly elected Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, is refusing to march in the parade because the organisers don't allow people to carry banners promoting gay pride.
Mr Kenny last year marched in the parade, which is regarded as the world's biggest.
The Taoiseach is understood to be visiting Boston, New York and Washington DC this year on his St Patrick's Day trip to the US.
Mr Kenny's spokesman declined to comment on the mayor's stance last night.
Former President Mary McAleese turned down an invitation to act as grand marshal to the parade four years ago.
Aras an Uachtarain cited scheduling constraints in her final year in office, but there was widespread speculation her refusal was linked to the controversy over gay marchers.
Mr de Blasio said he would not march in next month's famous event due to the organisers' ongoing refusal to allow the public expression of gay pride at the parade.
"I simply disagree with the organisers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city," he said.
Organisers of the parade allow gay rights activists to march, but they are not permitted to carry signs or other materials which promote gay pride, because they are believed to detract from the parade's focus on honouring the Irish tradition.
Meanwhile, organisers of Dublin's St Patrick's Day Festival have stressed the parade will be fully inclusive.
A statement from the team behind the Dublin festival said: "It is an inclusive festival, it sets out to reflect the talents and achievements of people on a national and world stage, and it acts as an exciting showcase for the many skills of the people of Ireland."