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People watch the St Patrick's Day Parade on 5th Avenue in New York City AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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New York City mayor refuses to take part in St Patrick's Day parade

Bill de Blasio says he will not walk in the parade because of the ban on participants from carrying signs for gay rights.

THE NEW MAYOR of New York City has said he will not take part in this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in the city because of the ban on participants from carrying gay rights signs.

Democrat Bill de Blasio told a press conference last night that he did not want to be part of the event.

“I simply disagree with the organisers of the parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” he said.

It has become a tradition for the mayor of the city, which has a high Irish emigrant population, to walk in the parade. De Blasio will be the first mayor in two decades not to take part.

The mayor said he still planned to take part in other events on St Patrick’s Day “to honour the Irish heritage of this city and the contribution of Irish-Americans”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny took part in last year’s St Patrick’s Day parade on 5th Avenue and met with then-mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Parade organisers have come under increasing pressure to overturn the rules about participants carrying signs about gay rights, but have said that the event is solely about celebrating the city’s Irish heritage. Gay and lesbian groups can participate but are not allowed to display any banners about gay rights.

An alternative gay-friendly parade takes place in Queens, another borough of New York, every year which De Blasio attended in his previous job as public advocate for the city.

The New York City parade is one of the biggest in the world, with more than one million people lining Fifth Avenue every year to watch around 200,000 participants.

imageNYC mayor Bill de Blasio speaking in the city last month. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Column: Boston and NYC  a tale of two new mayors >

Read: Looks like this city won’t have a St Patrick’s Day Parade for the third year in a row >

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