New York’s first openly gay council leader will boycott today’s St Patrick’s Day parade after Irish gay groups were blocked from participating.

The chairman of the Manhattan parade, John Dunleavy, refused an approach from the leader of New York’s City Council leader, Christine Quinn, to allow gay groups to join the march.

He said she was welcome to join in as a representative of the New York city council, but not as part of a gay group.

Ms Quinn told Associated Press, “I can’t deny who I am on any given day,”

Instead she will attend several pre-parade meetings and a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but will not join the 150,000 revellers on the march.

New York’s Irish gay organisations had been pushing to march behind their own banner, like other groups, although Ms Quinn compromised that they could also join in with the city council, she said: “There were conversations back and forth, there were moments where I was hopeful that we could have come to some agreement, but that didn’t happen.”

Irish gay groups have been banned from the parade for the last 16 years as officials try to keep politics out of it. Immigration groups are also excluded from the proceedings.

Ms Quinn added she had high hopes for the 2007 parade, “I’ve only been speaker for 10 weeks, so now we have 12 months to try to figure this out.”