Gardaí to join PSNI officers at gay pride parade in Belfast

Police permitted to march in uniform at Pride event for first time this year

Participants of the gay pride parade in Dublin last year. Gardaí will join their Northern Irish counterparts in Belfast on Saturday and take part in the city’s Pride event. Photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill

Participants of the gay pride parade in Dublin last year. Gardaí will join their Northern Irish counterparts in Belfast on Saturday and take part in the city’s Pride event. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Uniformed gardaí are due to join their PSNI colleagues, also in uniform, at this year’s gay pride parade in Belfast on Saturday.

The PSNI already has confirmed that for the first time its members will be permitted to parade at the Belfast Pride event in uniform. Previously they could march in civilian clothing only.

Now the PSNI has invited the Garda to accompany them at the parade, an invitation that has been accepted.

“Members of An Garda Síochána, their families and friends are all invited to take part and join members from the PSNI and their colleagues from Great Britain,” the Garda press office confirmed on Monday.

“Garda members may, with permission, take part in uniform. Attendance at the event is at the Garda member’s own expense,” it added.

PSNI vehicles with signs reading “Policing with Pride – Hate Crime is Unacceptable – To Stop It, Report It” will feature at Pride events in Belfast, Newry and Derry. Those attending and observing the parades will be encouraged to report homophobic crimes to the police.

Opportunity

The PSNI deputy chief constable, Drew Harris, said that the gay pride parades were “an important series of events for those in the community who identify as being LGB+T”.

He said that the PSNI viewed the events “as an opportunity not only to show its support for these members of our communities but also to highlight that hate crime, in whatever form, is wrong and the importance of reporting it”.

The chairwoman of the North’s Policing Board, Anne Connolly, lauded the move. She said: “I welcome the fact that officers will be parading at Pride in their uniform for the first time ever, demonstrating the diversity among PSNI officers and staff and PSNI support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people across our community.”

Meanwhile, Una Mullally, chairwoman of the group overseeing the Republic’s first-ever National LGBT Youth Strategy, has called on Northern Ireland politicians to respect “the will of the people, who overwhelmingly support marriage equality”.

Equality

Mullally, an Irish Times columnist, is delivering the Amnesty International Belfast Pride lecture on Tuesday evening. She is speaking on the theme, the road to LGBTI Equality in Ireland.

“It is absurd that a lesbian or gay couple can get married in Dundalk but not Newry, Letterkenny but not Strabane, Clones but not Enniskillen,” Mullally will say in her speech.

“It is absurd too, that politicians continue to veto the equality and rights of people in Northern Ireland, disrespecting the will of the people, who overwhelmingly support marriage equality in the North. On what basis is this being done other than prejudice?

“The politicians who oppose marriage equality need to reflect on the impetuses that are pushing them to do so. Prejudice, discrimination, meanness, and a lack of charity and fairness are not Christian values.”