The organiser of today’s St Patrick’s Day parade in New York has created further controversy over banning gay groups from the march after comparing Irish gays to Neo-Nazis.

In an interview with the Irish Times, John Dunleavy, said: “If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow neo-Nazis into their parade? If African Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?”

He added “People have rights. If we let the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organisation in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?”

New York City Council leader, Christine Quinn, who boycotted today’s march, condemned the outburst, she said: “In no way reflect the opinion of Irish New Yorkers; I don’t even believe they reflect opinions of most of the members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.”

Ms Quinn, New York’s first openly gay council leader, stayed away from the celebrations after Mr Dunleavey said Irish gay groups could not be involved as he wanted to keep politics out of the day.