Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has defended his decision to attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York next month.

Speaking at a leaders questions session in Ireland earlier this week Kenny said that the event is about “our Irishness and not about our sexuality.”

Kenny plans to travel to America for the NY celebrations and added, “The St Patrick’s Day Parade is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality and I would be happy to participate in it.”

He faced criticism from the Socialist Party's Joe Higgins, who pointed out that Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has indicated that she will boycott the New York parade.

Higgins asked if Kenny would “go along with the homophobic, disgraceful approach by some of these conservative Irish-American institutions”?

Higgins also described the United States as “the biggest imperial power on earth” during his contribution. “What is it about United States presidents that so mesmerises politicians in Ireland?”

Kenny said it is not a case of being “mesmerised,” but engaging with people who have or who hold high office “and who are interested in engaging with our country.”

Kenny was asked by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett if he would wear a rainbow badge symbolising the LGBT community. Kenny responded by stating he would be happy to wear a shamrock, which he says symbolises being Irish.

In previous comments the Prime Minister insisted he would go ahead with his plans.

“I’d say to everybody: St Patrick’s Day is a day for Ireland celebrating worldwide... For that reason, I think it’s very important that we celebrate that and obviously as one who’ll attend in New York, I intend to participate in it,” he said.

Kenny dismissed pleas to use his influence with organizers stating, “I don’t organize the parade in Cork or Dublin or New York. I go there as a visitor, as somebody who is invited to the United States, to engage with the Irish community.

“It is not for me to determine the conditions that apply for a parade in New York or Boston or Chicago or anywhere else,”  Kenny said.