Dublin explodes with colour as thousands come out for Pride
Organisers say 2015 parade twice as big in wake of same-sex marriage referendum
O’Connell Street, host to numerous protests against austerity and water charges in recent months, gave way to unbridled joy on Saturday as upwards of 50,000 people paraded for Dublin LGBTQ Pride.
People of all ages and from across the world – with even a few from Roscommon-South Leitrim – walked, shimmied and disco-danced their way along the route from Parnell Square to Merrion Square.
Dublin city centre was a blaze of ‘Pride’ hours before the parade’s start time of 1.30pm with people flying rainbow flags, wrapping rainbow flags around themselves and garlanding each other with multi-coloured flower leis. For today at least, Dublin was to be the capital-of-love.
Many were there in fancy-dress and drag – as golden angels, toreadors, flamenco dancers, Batman, priests and one man who was dressed as Robin was heard to say: “He’s had a much-maligned life living under the shadow of Batman”.
Senator David Norris described the atmosphere as “absolutely wonderful”.
The crowds on O’Connell St were the biggest he’d ever seen at the event, he said with the Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum last month bringing thousands out to celebrate.
“It feels like everyone is gay in Dublin today. I think it’ becoming too fashionable,” he joked.“ In fact I think I’ll surprise everyone and come out as straight.”
Patricia and Kevin, a couple in their 50s from Bray, Co Wicklow, said they had never been on a Gay Pride march before but they were there: “because we have a son and we’re proud of him”. He was a DJ and was “somewhere nearby setting up for a party”.
Jose Montilla, from Venezuela was there with his boyfriend, Kristof Baraniecki, from Poland. The parade was “amazing” said Mr Baraniecki. “This country is much better gay-wise than Poland. It’s much more comfortable.”
Niamh McDonald from Wicklow said she was there “for equality” adding “We need a bit of this in Ireland, a bit of joy” but added: “There’s still a way to go on tackling transphobia”.
Heading up the parade were the main LGBTQ representative groups – the Gay + Lesbian Equality Network, LGBT Noise, the youth group BelongTo, Transgender Equality Network Ireland and the champions of the referendum, Marriage Equality. Also there was the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
Numerous workers paraded behind their employers’ banners with the IT industry there in force. Banners from Linkedin, Yahoo, Airbnb, Yelp, Ebay, Dropbox, Paypal, Microsoft and Facebook were there as were Citibank, Mastercard, Bank Of Ireland and restaurant-chain Nandos was represented with a banner saying “Worth coming out for”.
All political parties were represented including Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit and the Socialist Workers Party.
Tánaiste Joan Burton and Minister for Equality Aodhán Ó Riordáin among those behind the Labour banner while TDs Regina Doherty, Derek Keating, Jerry Buttimer, Minister for Transport Pascal Donohoe ,Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Children James Reilly were among those behind a Fine Gael banner saying “Thank you for voting Yes”.
University student unions, as well as youth organisations like Scouting Ireland were represented.
Perhaps the largest single contingent of young people danced and paraded behind a float representing the George pub.
By the time the parade reached its destination its tail was just leaving Parnell Square.
Gráinne Healy of Marriage Equality told The Irish Times the parade had been “massive and double the size of last year”.
“It’s fabulous. Something perhaps we’re not so good at is to stop and celebrate what we have achieved. Today is a celebration of what so many people have worked over a decade to achieve – marriage equality.
“There is more to do. The two key things for me are to get the gender recognition legislation through and then to get rid of Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act. The next equality issues are reproductive rights and income inequality.
“I think there is a sense of hope that we can say ‘Yes’ to these other issues too now. But today is about celebrating, and Dublin looked great today.”