Young boy celebrate St. Patrick's DayBBC

When it comes to parades, and not just St. Patrick’s ones, the New York City march up Fifth Avenue is the granddaddy of them all, bigger and bolder than any, matched only in its heyday by the May Day parade in Moscow.

The parade has never steered clear of controversy either, gays in the parade the most lasting and durable one.

The parade is always more about Catholicism than Irishness, especially at its operational level. The New York cardinal has a powerful say over its honorees and marshals so we can expect little change.

Reports say the all-inclusive St. Patrick’s parade this year in Queens drew a record crowd and an Irish government minister, so that may well cement the imperfect but working compromise that has taken place.

Of course we wish it were different, that everyone could march on Fifth Avenue, but in the current fraught atmosphere that is never going to happen.

More’s the pity.