As big green hats and Guinness cans begin to fill the world’s biggest cities for this year’s St Patrick’s Day, it has emerged that gay groups have been rejected from taking part in the New York parade.

The annual Irish celebration which is embraced by all cultures irrelevant of the nationality, has been thrown into a gay rights debate after the chairman of the Manhattan parade, John Dunleavy, blocked an approach from New York’s gay council leader, Christine Quinn, to allow gay groups to join the march.

He accused the Irish Lesbian and Gay organisation of “dirty pool tactics” and using the parade as a tool for publicity.

Ms Quinn, who pushed for gay groups of 150,000 people to be allowed on the march, was told that she was welcome to join in as a representative of the New York city council, but not as part of a gay group.

St Patrick’s Day is on March 17.