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Gaelic football pundit defends decision to bring Catholic school students to gay pride parade


Jarlath Burns

Jarlath Burns

Jarlath Burns

A well-known Gaelic football pundit and former inter-county player has spoken of his decision to bring students to a gay pride parade in Co. Down.

Jarlath Burns, principal of St. Paul's High School in Co. Armagh and BBC pundit, marched with a group of senior pupils at a gay pride parade in Newry last weekend.

It is understood the group from St. Paul's were the first Irish students to take part in a pride parade.

“At St Paul’s, we celebrate diversity. It is a welcoming place where all students can feel comfortable.

"We just wanted to walk to show solidarity with what is a marginalised group in our society, to show them compassion, dignity and respect,” said Burns, to the Irish Catholic.

Burns said his decision to march with his students was not at odds with his school's Catholic ethos:

“Schools should not be places where students are ridiculed or made feel isolated. 

"We are proud to be a Catholic school and it because of that we decided to walk as a group and give Christian witness," he said.

The former Armagh midfielder said societal norms should be challenged, and is proud of his school's act of solidarity:

"It may have been controversial but we have to challenge ourselves and the status quo.

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"We can’t be bound by tradition. It’s in that context that we decided to march and I’m very proud of what we did,” he said.