Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Dublin for the city’s annual Pride parade.
The colourful event, from O’Connell Street to Merrion Street, is the culmination of a week-long celebration in the Irish capital.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined uniformed officers from both sides of the border who were taking part in the LGBTQ parade for the first time.
Mr Varadkar said it was a “real honour” to be at Pride alongside both Gardai and PSNI officers.
He said: “It’s only the third time I’ve been, my second time as Taoiseach, and the first time joined here with the gardai and the PSNI, also defence forces and the public service too. Happy Pride everyone.”
Mr Varadkar is the country’s first openly gay Taoiseach and in 2017 he become the first leader of Ireland to walk in the parade.
He said inclusiveness is a really important message for young people, and children especially.
“You only live once, be the person you are,” he added.
While individual members of the Garda have taken part in the celebrations before, it was the first time the force had approved the participation of members in uniform.
It was also the first time the PSNI were involved in Dublin Pride.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who marched alongside members from the force, said it was very important gardai were participating in uniform.
“We are here for a number of very good reasons, one to show that we’re a diverse organisation, we want to be an inclusive organisation and being here in uniform is a physical manifestation of that,” he said.
“Secondly we’re here to protect people from hate crime… and lastly this is about us demonstrating to all of our staff that we’re an inclusive organisation and we want diversity within An Garda Siochana.”
Mr Harris was one of the senior officers behind the PSNI’s decision to take part in Belfast Pride for the first time in 2017. He was the PSNI deputy chief constable when he invited gardai to join his officers for the Belfast event.
He said he could “understand” why some members of the LGBT community were not happy with the Garda’s involvement, but added: “We are here for the right reasons and we’re here with good intent… we are here to protect all the people of Ireland, including the gay community.”
Some in the LGBTQ community have complained of the growing involvement of the establishment and an organisation called Queer Action Ireland held an alternative parade because of the force’s involvement.
No trip to the Guinness Storehouse is complete without a visit to our gates! For the first time, we’ve transformed them to stand in solidarity with the LGBT+ inclusive rugby tournament @unioncuprugby 🌈 Good luck guys! #TryWithPride Pic: jcorcoran [IG]https://t.co/a0hC1eklNZpic.twitter.com/VbYSuFAuGY
— GUINNESS STOREHOUSE (@homeofguinness) May 31, 2019
The theme at this year’s main event was Rainbow Revolution to coincide the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Revolution that marked the start of the international Pride movement.
Organisers hoped attendance would top last year’s record of more than 60,000 people.
The city was decked out in rainbow colours in honour of the LGBTQ community – including An Post letter boxes and the Guinness Storehouse’s iconic St James’s Gate, and the Pride flag was flown over Leinster House for the first time.
Dublin LGBTQ Pride chairwoman Clodagh Leonard said the event had “grown exponentially” in recent years.
She said it is vital the community still comes together to highlight progress made in the fight for equality, but also to continue the fight.
She said: “Until younger LGBTQ people, unless people who are more marginalised in society can walk safely down the street and not worry about how their presenting or about how people are going to speak to them or about their ability to participate in society, then we’re not there yet.”
The first large-scale Dublin Pride parade took place in 1983 with 200 participants, now the week-long event attracts about 100,000 people.
The Republic of Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2015 by popular vote, following a referendum in which 62% of the population voted in favour.