Carnival atmosphere at annual Gay Pride parade
Colourful scenes as over 30,000 celebrate on the capital's streets
The annual colourful Dublin Gay Pride parade stretched right across Dublin city centre yesterday with an estimated 30,000 gays, lesbians and their supporters bringing a carnival atmosphere to the city centre.
The only hitch in an otherwise ecstatic parade came when a small number of 'Jail the Bankers' protesters demonstrating outside the GPO sat down in front of the Labour Gay Pride open-top bus.
The sit-down did not seem to cause any significant embarrassment for government ministers Ruairi Quinn and Joan Burton on the top deck and the bus moved on after about 10 minutes.
Special tributes were paid at the post-parade festival in Merrion Square to Senator David Norris – who last week announced he had cancer –for his pioneering of gay rights and the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland.
This year's parade is the high point of a 10-day festival to mark three lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender milestones – the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Gay Movement; the 30th anniversary of the parade itself; and the 20th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland.
The parade, led by a fire engine and charged with the usual exuberance and flamboyance, had as its focus this year the return of LGBT "brothers and sisters" who had left Ireland.
The organisers called on people who had emigrated "due to either poverty or persecution" to return to celebrate the "wonderful diverse and inclusive culture of modern Ireland".
The motto for the parade and festival is: Live, Love, be Proud. The organisers anticipated an attendance of 30,000 based on previous years and gardai yesterday agreed that at least this number attended.
The parade took more than an hour to leave its assembly point at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square and the tail end was still north of the Liffey by the time the leaders had reached the Pride Village on Merrion Square on the southside.
The square was chosen as the focus of post-parade fun because of its associations with Oscar Wilde who was born nearby. His life was celebrated in a number of events during the week's festivities.
The parade was the culmination of dozens of events catering for every taste from the 'Family Day' in Fairview Park (a great day out for all the family with sports and games and the popular dog show) to 'An Introduction to BDSM' (bondage dominance and sado-masochism) – "to explore it safely in both the physical and mental realm".
The festival's musical highlight, according to the organisers, was the Summer Serenade by the Dublin Gay Men's Chorus, Ireland's only all-male gay choir who gave their first festival performance at the GCQ Building in Dublin's Docklands last Sunday.
Special messages were read out from Graham Norton and Mrs Brown's Boys at the post-parade festival, along with music, cabaret and comedy performances.