Varadkar: I’m not trying to unsettle anyone by attending Pride

Taoiseach attending Pride breakfast during Belfast visit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Queen’s University in Belfast. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Queen’s University in Belfast. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is not attempting to “unsettle anyone” by attending the Pride breakfast in Belfast on Saturday.

Speaking to the media after delivering a speech on Brexit in Queen’s University on Friday, Mr Varadkar said he did not think he would be discussing the prospect of gay marriage becoming legal in Northern Ireland when he met DUP leader Arlene Foster.

“I raised it last time we met I don’t think it’s going to be raised today unless she raises it. The focus of the talks today is going to be on Brexit and on re-establishing the Northern Ireland executive and that’s what I want to focus on today,” he said.

“But I will be attending the Pride breakfast tomorrow morning in Belfast and I’m doing that not in an attempt to unsettle anyone.”

Mr Varadkar said he accepted marriage equality was a “strand one” issue, meaning it related to the internal affairs of Northern Ireland and was therefore a matter to be dealt with by the Stormont Assembly,

“And I think the assembly will deal with it, if and when it’s up and running,” he said.

The Taoiseach said he would be attending the Pride event “to express my support and that of my Government for equality before the law and individual freedom for all citizens, just as I would in any other part of the world”.

He said it was a positive sign that for the first time members of the PSNI and An Garda Siochana would be marching in uniform at the Pride parade.

He said he understood the Pride parade was the “biggest single parade, the biggest single march” happening in Northern Ireland this year.

“I think that’s very significant and it talks about a very different Northern Ireland and perhaps gives us hope as to what Northern Ireland might look like in the future.”