Gay Irish PM Leo Varadkar appears at Belfast Pride, but claims he isn’t there to ‘unsettle anyone’
The out Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland has taken a stand against the DUP by attending Belfast Pride.
Leo Varadkar, who made history when he was elected earlier this summer, attended a breakfast with Pride participants this weekend.
The PM, or Taoiseach as it’s known in Ireland, announced he would be attending the event north of the border, despite the DUP continuing to block same sex marriage in the country.
Speaking ahead of his appearance, he said he was appearing to show his support for “equality before the law”, drawing condemnation from some members of the DUP.
He added: “I will attend the Pride breakfast on Saturday morning in Belfast to express my support for equality before the law for Catholics, Protestants, non-religious people, men, women, gay people and straight people.
“And I won’t be making any compromises about that for anyone really.”
Despite the majority of politicians in Northern Ireland actually supporting gay marriage, the country has been barred from introducing it by the DUP – who are now propping up Theresa May’s Government.
Although the gay leader was unable to march in the parade itself, the Fine Gael politician did make the trip to the Belfast pub event early in the morning.
Nelson McCausland, a former minister for the DUP, has slammed the move as “interfering”, though Varadkar insisted he was not there “to unsettle anyone”.
McCausland added: “Many unionists will find it odd if he starts to interfere, as in someways he already has done, in what is a social issue in Northern Ireland around the redefinition of marriage.”
Varadkar though says he was merely showing his support for equality, just as he would anywhere else in the world.
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He added: “I’m doing [it] not in an attempt to unsettle anyone. I accept fully that marriage equality is a [reserved issue for Northern Ireland] to be dealt with by the Assembly if and when it is up and running, and I think the Assembly will deal with it if and when it is up and running,
“[I wanted to] express my support and that of my government for equality before the law and individual freedom for all citizens, just as I would in any other part of the world.”
The PM has previously spoken out about the issue though, in the past telling DUP leader Arlene Foster to stop blocking the debate.
He explained at the time: “I expressed my very strong view that marriage equality should be permitted in Northern Ireland.
“The majority of people in Northern Ireland want that, the majority of members in the Northern Ireland Assembly want that, and I expressed very clearly my view that the Petition of Concern mechanism should not be used to block marriage equality in Northern Ireland.
“As you can appreciate, Arlene Foster and the DUP have a different view on this matter. They made me aware of their views.
“There wasn’t a meeting of the minds on this issue, but I will certainly continue to raise it.”