Irish LGBT groups continued to protest their exclusion from the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade on Tuesday, even though the parade committee allowed a gay employee group from parade broadcast network NBC to march for the first time.

John Francis Mulligan, a longtime member of the Irish Queers group told the Irish Voice, “There’s no mention of the New York’s St.. Patrick’s Day Parade anywhere without mentioning the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups.

“Even if they’re not sympathetic to us they still have to discuss it. Everyone talks about this issue each year. After all this is not some event in a private parochial hall – it’s held on Fifth Avenue in New York City!”

Asked if he was hopeful that an Irish gay group would finally be permitted to march next year, after the historic inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal in this year’s parade, Mulligan was guardedly optimistic.

“I am very hopeful that next year they will allow an Irish LGBT group. But our demands have not changed. We don’t want to change the parade, we just want one banner with a few words on it. We are a part of the Irish community, and we belong to it like any other Irish group,” he said.

For many bystanders watching the protest it’s a head-scratcher that it’s still occurring in 2015. “Do none of them have a gay son or daughter of their own?” asked an onlooker as she watched the Irish county organizations file past on parade. The woman, who declined to give her name, said she was married and had children of her own and she could not understand how the ban on LGBT Irish groups was still in place in 2015.

The awkwardness was palpable as the gay Irish protests groups took up most of the length of the 56th Street. Many marchers decided to look right toward supporters instead of left toward the protestors. But other marchers raised their fists in a show of support to the excluded gay groups.

Meanwhile, Mulligan said he was underwhelmed by the inclusion of the OUT group, which he considers a corporate, as opposed to an Irish, entity.

“The struggle has been for an Irish LGBT group to participate in the parade and celebrate their Irishness,” says Mulligan.

“It would be progress if their banner says the words lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – that would be an advance. But OUT Universal have not responded to Irish Queers call over what their banner would say on the day and if it would use those exact words.”

The OUT banner did include those words, the Irish Voice discovered at press time.