Defence Forces, Courts Service asked to withdraw from Pride parades after Cathal Crotty suspended sentence

Staff in Courts Service group ‘upset’ and ‘frustrated’ with exclusion, saying there is a misunderstanding about their duties

The two groups have been asked to withdraw from Pride events in Dublin and Limerick in an official capacity. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Dublin and Limerick Pride organisers have asked the Defence Forces and Courts Service to withdraw from upcoming parades in an official capacity, following the fully suspended sentence of Cathal Crotty.

Crotty (22), a serving Irish soldier, beat Natasha O’Brien (24) unconscious to the point that she believed she was going to be killed. He later boasted about the attack on social media.

Ms O’Brien had asked Crotty to stop shouting homophobic slurs at two men on O’Connell Street in Limerick City just before the assault.

The Defence Forces and the Courts Service have now been asked by Dublin Pride organisers to withdraw from marching in uniform on June 29th, saying their presence would be a distraction following the assault and Crotty’s fully suspended sentence.

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“We are aware that the vast majority of Defence Forces & Court Service personnel are decent and hardworking, and they will be welcome in their personal capacity at Dublin Pride.

“But given recent events, it would not be appropriate to have them in a branded capacity this year as it would prove an unnecessary distraction from Pride,” said Jamie Kenny, executive director of Dublin Pride.

‘I am absolutely overwhelmed’: Natasha O’Brien attends solidarity protest in LimerickOpens in new window ]

It is understood that staff within the Courts Service’s inclusion group are “upset” and “frustrated” with the exclusion, saying there is a misunderstanding concerning their duties.

The Courts Service is responsible for the administration and management of the courts and is independent from any judicial functions.

A spokesman for the Courts Service said its inclusion group received a request on Monday from Dublin Pride organisers to not participate in the parade with corporate logos.

“The Inclusion Group will consider this request later in the week,” he said.

Meanwhile, Limerick Pride organisers said Crotty’s “unprovoked and vicious assault” of Ms O’Brien was deeply rooted in homophobia and they are “appalled” by the suspended sentence handed down.

“Limerick Pride Festival would like to send a strong message that the Defence Forces are not welcome to participate in Limerick Pride in uniform on July 13th. Pride is and always will be a protest,” said Lisa Daly, festival director.

Ms Daly said many members of the Defence Forces are “strongly against what has happened”, saying they are welcome to attend in a personal capacity.

“Like our counterparts in Dublin, we are aware that there are huge numbers of our defence forces and court services personnel who are decent and hardworking, and they will always be welcome at pride.

“But as our priority is to respond to calls from the wider LGBTQI+ community, we have asked they do so unbranded, if they choose to come this year,” she said.

It is understood other Pride organisers across the country are considering similar moves.

Although the Defence Forces do not historically participate in the Navan Pride parade in an official capacity, organisers said they “wholly condemn the suspended sentence handed to Crotty.”

“We would expect a better response from the Defence Forces in how they deal with such cases, by publicly condemning the disturbing behaviour of one of their own,” they said.

In a statement, the Defence Forces said: “Óglaigh na hÉireann and our LGBTQ+ community ‘Defend with Pride’ wish the organisers every success with this year’s event.

“The Defence Forces was the first uniformed service in the State to participate in Dublin Pride in 2018 and have been proud to participate every year since.”

The Defence Forces has commenced a disciplinary process against Crotty, which may result in his dismissal from the Army.

Jack White

Jack White

Jack White is a reporter for The Irish Times