Garda station to fly flag in support of gay parade

Festival organiser says show of support from Limerick gardaí is significant

Henry Street Garda station in Limerick will become the first in the Republic to fly the rainbow flag when it raises it in support of those parading in this year’s Limerick Pride festival

Henry Street Garda station in Limerick will become the first in the Republic to fly the rainbow flag when it raises it in support of those parading in this year’s Limerick Pride festival

Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 01:02

A move by one of the State’s biggest Garda divisions to fly a rainbow flag outside its divisional headquarters has been described as a significant symbol of support for the gay community in Ireland.

Henry Street Garda station in Limerick will become the first in the Republic to fly the rainbow flag when it raises it in support of those parading in this year’s Limerick Pride festival.

The festival is already under way this week promoting “Equality, Love, Diversity and Celebration”. The annual Pride parade will take place in the city on Saturday and pass Henry Street Garda station on its route.

Festival organiser Dave Cuddihy said the show of support from Limerick gardaí was significant. “The Garda station in Henry Street are going to be the first Garda station in the country to fly a Pride flag on Saturday as the parade passes the route,” he said.

“It’s basically a symbol by them to show that the guards are there for us if we need them to support any incidents of homophobic crime. They are basically just reaching out and it’s a huge step forward for the guards in Ireland as well that this symbol is going to be put out there.”

Chief Supt Dave Sheahan described flying the flag as a means of “showing our recognition and support for LGBT people as they pass by Henry Street Garda station and, in particular, we are sending a message to report any homophobic, violent, threatening and/or abusive behaviour”.

Earlier this year an organisation representing the transgender community in Ireland called on the Government to introduce hate crime legislation. This followed the publication of the Stad: Stop Transphobia and Discrimination Report for 2013, which documented 32 hate incidents, of which 15 were designated hate crimes.

Eighty-eight per cent of respondents experienced verbal abuse or insults, 28 per cent threats of violence, 19 per cent physical violence and 6 per cent sexual harassment. Some respondents had been fired from their jobs.

At the launch of a report by the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni), chief executive Broden Giambrone said: “We need our lawmakers and legal institutions to understand the realities of trans-peoples’ lives and we need our police services to respect and protect us.

“This must include changes in policy and law and delivery of training to the gardaí and PSNI,” Mr Giambrone added. “We are optimistic that this report will hold a mirror up to Irish society and show us we must be better.”