Gay pride in Galway is Ireland’s oldest LGBT event, yet organisers have not been able to find a single politician to open the festivities.

The city’s Green party mayor was due to kick off proceedings tonight, but he was called away on other business.

Organiser Darren Whelan was sceptical about their fruitless search for a replacement: “We’ve tried different parties but it seems everyone is involved in something else at the same time.

“We could give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s because of the short notice but I wonder is it because of the upcoming elections that they don’t want to risk being associated with us?” he told The Irish Examiner.

Galway, Ireland’s third-largest city, sits on the wild west coast of the island.

A popular tourist destination, it has long been known for its laid-back atmosphere and welcoming locals.

This year’s pride festival, the 27th, has been marred by homophobic hate mail sent to the organisers calling them paedophiles.

The festival runs until Sunday, with the Pride march moving through the city centre on Saturday afternoon, followed by a party and music in a local park.

Other innovative events include Irish language speed dating and a cruise along the River Corrib.

The aims of the festival are similar to every other pride event: “The festival is a celebration of gay people in the community.

“It invites the city to celebrate with us and says we don’t want to be pushed into one section of the community,” said Whelan.

“It’s a support to other gay people too, particularly young people who may be trying to come out.

“It says we’re here, we’re part of the community and you really are not the only one.”

As reported by PinkNews.co.uk Sligo will host its first pride events this weekend, making it a busy bank holiday for the Irish LGBT community.