Pride Parade draws thousands to Dublin streets
TENS of thousands of people thronged the streets of Dublin as the city hosted the first Pride Parade since Ireland voted `yes’ in the same-sex marriage referendum.
Saturday’s parade had a Mardi Gras vibe to it as members of the LGBT community took part in a procession from O’Connell Street to Merrion Square.
Senator David Norris, a long-time gay rights activist, wore a rainbow tie and he was one of a host of politicians at the event. Health Minister Leo Varadkar was draped in a rainbow flag as he attended his first Pride since coming out as gay.
Senator Norris said there was an extra cause for celebration at the parade after the US Supreme Court ruled to legalise gay marriage across the USA last week.
"We led the way on gay marriage. And it was wonderful to see the US Supreme Court ruling. It feels like everyone is gay in Dublin today," he joked.
It was the biggest Pride march to date in Dublin and the tens of thousands marked quite a contrast to the couple of hundred of people who took part back in the early 1990s.
Representatives from Leitrim and Roscommon, the one constituency that voted `no’ in the referendum, marched at the front of the parade.
The first float in the parade had a banner reading `the future is equal’ and another banner read, `Equality rocks, thank you Ireland’.
There were rainbow flags everywhere, with one even draped around the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square.
There were calls from parade-goers in Dublin and at London’s Pride event on Saturday for gay marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland.
In London, prominent gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell carried a placard reading, `Northern Ireland! End the same-sex marriage ban. Equal Marriage’.
This year’s Belfast Pride Parade will take place on Saturday August 1, as part of the 10-day Belfast Pride Festival. The festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and the theme is `building equality’.
Meanwhile, Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the IDA – which is responsible for attracting foreign direct investment into Ireland - has told a Sunday newspaper that he received homophobic letters warning him of judgement day because he called for a `yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage referendum last month.
Mr Shanahan came under some criticism after speaking out ahead of the referendum to say that a `yes’ vote would be in Ireland’s economic interest.