Friday 20 September 2019

'You only live once, be the person you are': Leo's Pride

Drag queen Avril Nitrate, aka Aer Lingus Cabin Services manager Craig Fitzgerald, with surprise guest Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the Aer Lingus float at the Dublin Pride Festival. Photo: Julien Behal photography
Drag queen Avril Nitrate, aka Aer Lingus Cabin Services manager Craig Fitzgerald, with surprise guest Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the Aer Lingus float at the Dublin Pride Festival. Photo: Julien Behal photography

Aine Kenny

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar partied with 60,000 of revellers at yesterday's Dublin Pride event.

The first Dublin Pride parade took place in 1983 with 200 participants. This year's event was one of the biggest in recent years.

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Mr Varadkar joined police officers from both sides of the border at the hugely popular event.

"It's a real honour to be here at Pride. It's only the third time I've been, my second time as Taoiseach, and the first time joined here with gardai and the PSNI, also defence forces and the public service too. So a really great turnout and a beautiful day in Dublin city, so happy Pride everyone," he said.

"It's really important that we say to anyone who is anybody who is thinking of joining our public service, whether it's the civil service, the defence forces or the gardai, that we're an inclusive employer and if you're gay or lesbian, or bisexual, transgender, we understand that and you'll be welcome. It's also a really important message to young people, to kids: you only live once - be the person you are."

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it was very important that members of the Garda were participating in the parade in uniform.

Revellers enjoy the parade
Revellers enjoy the parade

"We are here for a number of very good reasons, one to show that we're a diverse organisation, we want to be an inclusive organisation and being here in uniform is a physical manifestation of that," he said.

"Secondly, we're here to protect people from hate crime and we ask people who are subject to, or victims of hate crime and hate incidents, that they report those incidents.

"And lastly, this is about us demonstrating to all of our staff that we're an inclusive organisation and we want diversity within An Garda Siochana."

But Commissioner Harris said he could understand why some members of the LGBT community were not happy with Garda involvement.

"I can understand, they have a right to protest and that's their entitlement, but we are here for the right reasons and we're here with good intent and we want to illustrate that we, in 2019, are here to protect all the people of Ireland, including the gay community," he said.

Others in attendance included comedian Katherine Lynch and singer Brian Kennedy. Senator David Norris, a veteran gay rights campaigner, watched from the seats outside the GPO before joining in the marching.

Jason Moran, from Dublin, said: "I'm here to celebrate being in the community with my friends, because there's a lot of times where we aren't able to be out and proud."

Sunday Independent

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