stOrganizers of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade have agreed to allow a gay contingent to march under its own banner for the first time, making an exception for a group of employees from NBC, the network televising the event. The prohibition on identified gay groups in the world’s largest and centuries-old New York parade had made participation a political issue. Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march this year, and Guinness beer dropped its sponsorship. The private New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, in a statement made available to The Associated Press, said Wednesday that OUT@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource group at the company that broadcasts the parade, would be marching up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on March 17 under an identifying banner.  Craig Robinson, executive vice-president and chief diversity officer atNBCUniversal, said the group had applied to march, but there was no immediate word on why the group was chosen. “We welcome the parade committee’s decision to accept OUT@NBCUniversal’s application to march and enthusiastically embrace the gesture of inclusion,” Robinson said. “Our employees, families and friends look forward to joining in this time-honoured celebration of Irish culture and heritage.” More