Tributes made to Irish LGBT activist Tarlach MacNiallais

The 57-year-old rights campaigner died in New York after getting the coronavirus

Tributes have been made to the Irish American LGBT rights activist Tarlach MacNiallais who died in New York City on Wednesday, after contracting the coronavirus.

Mr Mac Niallais (57) grew up with the outbreak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. As a Student at Queen's University Belfast in the 1980s, he clashed with the Rev Ian Paisley's "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign, which sought to combat tentative calls for gay rights.

A passionate advocate of LGBT and social justice issues he moved to the United States and became involved in the struggle for LGBT groups to be allowed march under their own banners in the New York City St Patrick's Day Parade. He was the formation manager of the LGBT Lavender and Green Irish group when that group marched under its own banner in the parade in 2017.

A number of social media posts had expressed shock at the sudden nature of his death. A friend, Daniel Dromm posted a picture of MacNiallais and his husband Juan on the street in New York within the last month saying: "We lost Tarlach in a matter of days....this is so frightening and devastating."


Marie Mulholland a friend of MacNiallais said he was a "huge light".

“My old friend, comrade, brother activist, pal from the old neighbourhood, leading light in LGBT politics from the ‘80s in Belfast to the present day in New York City has passed away this evening a victim of Covid-19,” she said.

Last year McNiallais donated his personal Irish archive detailing his activism in Belfast to the Museum of Free Derry.

He is survived by his husband Jaun Vazquez and a broad collection of nieces and nephews.