Varadkar attendance at Belfast Gay Pride event ‘totally inappropriate’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Irish premier Leo Varadkar’s attendance at a Gay Pride event in Belfast this Saturday has been blasted as “totally inappropriate”.

Mr Varadkar confirmed he will be at a Pride breakfast to promote the rights of the LGBT community.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

However, he is unable to attend the annual Pride march through the city centre due to another engagement.

Mr Varadkar is the Republic’s first openly gay leader and has been vocal about campaigning for change in NI.

TUV leader Jim Allister told the News Letter: “I believe it is totally inappropriate for him to attempt to interfere with the internal affairs of Northern Ireland.

“The legal definition of marriage is a Northern Ireland issue, not the plaything of foreign governments.”

On Friday, the taoiseach will make his first visit to Northern Ireland to meet with political leaders since taking over from Enda Kenny in June.

• Read more on controversy: See links below

Mr Varadkar’s participation in the Pride event comes amid increased scrutiny from Great Britain on LGBT issues in Northern Ireland, following the DUP’s ‘confidence and supply’ deal with Theresa May’s Conservative government.

The News Letter asked the DUP for a statement regarding the taoiseach’s decision to take part in the event, but the party declined to comment.

However, Mr Varadkar said he would not be making any compromises for anyone.

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.”

In June the taoiseach, who revealed he was gay ahead of the Republic’s 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, is believed to have angered Arlene Foster’s party when he said the DUP should stop using a controversial Stormont voting tactic to block the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

The Province is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage remains banned.

The DUP has used the voting mechanism to prevent a law change, despite a majority of MLAs supporting the move at the last vote.

Commenting on the issue at the time, Mr Varadkar said that during a meeting with Mrs Foster he expressed his “very strong view that marriage equality should be permitted in Northern Ireland”.

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