Varadkar’s visit to North will coincide with Belfast Pride festival

Varadkar has signalled intention to support cause of marriage equality in the North

Leo Varadkar: he said he had raised the DUP’s opposition to marriage equality with party leader Arlene Foster

Leo Varadkar: he said he had raised the DUP’s opposition to marriage equality with party leader Arlene Foster

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s visit to Northern Ireland on Friday will coincide with the Belfast Pride festival, but it is unclear whether he will attend any LGBT-related events.

Background discussions about Mr Varadkar’s possible attendance are understood to have taken place. The itinerary for his first trip to the North as Taoiseach is expected to be finalised on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last Friday Mr Varadkar said he would “do some other functions” when he travelled to the North for about two days to meet party leaders who were available as part of a programme of “low-key diplomacy”.

When Mr Varadkar attended Dublin Pride in June he signalled an intention to support the cause of marriage equality in Northern Ireland, telling an audience that people in the North “do not have the same rights as we do”.

When he visited Downing Street later that month Mr Varadkar said it was a matter of when, not if, Northern Ireland would introduce equal marriage rights.

And asked about the DUP’s opposition to marriage equality, he said he had raised it with party leader Arlene Foster, and would continue to do so.

Deadlock

Talks aimed at restoring the powersharing executive will resume in September.

Sinn Féin has blamed the DUP for the current deadlock, and accused the party of refusing to move on issues such as same-sex marriage, as well as the Irish language and a bill of rights for Northern Ireland.

The DUP has countered that Sinn Féin has delayed progress towards re-establishing the executive.

Amnesty International Ireland’s director Colm O’Gorman said support for marriage equality from any political leader on the island was welcome.

“Marriage equality will be delivered. It is only a matter of time before that happens. A large majority of people in Northern Ireland support it. We now need legislators to get on and deliver on this.”

The Belfast Pride festival began last Friday, and runs next Sunday, August 6th, with the parade taking place on Saturday.