Taoiseach says Pride event attendance not bid to unsettle those with other views

Leo Varadkar is making his first visit to Belfast as Taoiseach
Leo Varadkar is making his first visit to Belfast as Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar has said his attendance at a gay Pride event in Belfast is not an attempt to unsettle anyone who holds a different view on same sex marriage.

The Taoiseach said he fully accepts the issue of whether or not gay marriage should be introduced in Northern Ireland was entirely the responsibility of local politicians.

But Mr Varadkar, the Republic of Ireland's first openly gay premier, said he wanted to attend the Pride breakfast event to demonstrate his support for equality before the law.

He also hailed the fact that uniformed officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Irish Garda would be taking part in Belfast's Pride parade for the first time on Saturday.

"I will be attending the Pride breakfast tomorrow morning and am I doing that not in an attempt to unsettle anyone," he said.

"I accept fully that marriage equality is a strand one issue (internal to 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, but rather 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.

"I think it is a really positive sign that for the first time the PSNI and Gardai will be marching in uniform at the Pride parade which I understand is the biggest single parade, the biggest single march happening in Northern Ireland this year.

"And I think that is very significant and it talks about a very different Northern Ireland and perhaps that gives us hope as to what Northern Ireland might look like in the future."