Minister for Equality, Roderic O’Gorman, is paying a visit to Waterford today, which has been the epicentre of various homophobic incidents during June. In an act of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, O’Gorman will be meeting with Waterford City Mayor Damien Geoghegan, and activist group Pride of the Déise, to raise previously torn down Pride flags outside the City’s council offices.
Pride Flags raised again in #Waterford City by @rodericogorman and @damiengeoghegan pic.twitter.com/0kpbPHdcEt
— Beat 102 103 (@beat102103) June 21, 2021
On the night of June 6, the first flag was removed and then burned, with a man in his 40s being arrested in relation to the incident. In response, Mayor Geoghan pledged to replace the flag, and did so by raising two new ones, which faced similar destruction by anti-LGBTQ+ citizens.
And the attacks did not stop there. ‘Straight Pride’ posters were also plastered around the City, declaring “it’s Natural, it’s Worked for Thousands of Years and you Can Make Babies”.
According to The Journal, Mayor Geoghegan thanked the Minister for Equality “for showing solidarity with the people of Waterford on this occasion” adding that “the symbolism of [the visit] will be important”.
Standing with the city’s queer community, Geoghegan remains “undeterred and determined to continue to fly the pride flag for the remainder of the month of June,” and declared the previous acts as “truly despicable”.
Co-chairperson of Pride of the Déise, Éadaoin Breathnach, also added that “it is important for the members of our youth committee and the young people of Waterford and Ireland to see that we have the support of our community and of a member of Cabinet who understands what homophobia really is, the effects it can have and also how to stand against it with Pride.”
It is expected that further LGBTQ+ activists will be in attendance today, as well as politicians such as Green Party’s Marc Ó Cathasaigh, who tweeted about the meeting last week.
Looking forward to welcoming @rodericogorman to #Waterford next week to send out the message loud and clear that we stand with #Pride ? https://t.co/3aT0N8bQFa
— Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD (@MarcKC_Green) June 18, 2021
Commenting on the visit, Minister O’Gorman stated that “Irish people want to live in a compassionate, progressive, and caring country, where everyone is valued and included.
“Pride of the Déise exemplify that, and I look forward to raising the Pride flag with them.”
This outcry of support has been an overwhelming positive to take away from the situation. Businesses and homes alike chose to display their own Pride flags in solidarity, and artist and photographer Donal Talbot came up with a fantastic, creative initiative in retaliation to the ‘Straight Pride’ posters. Furthermore, Waterford’s ‘Mount Misery’ received a rainbow makeover to celebrate Pride, which has remained undamaged so far.
At least one Govt party Waterford cllr (may be more) got homophobic hate mail this weekend after solidarity shown on #pride ; Gardai being contacted. As I have consistently said, this is a political issue. How our body politic responds to hatred is vital in days & weeks ahead. pic.twitter.com/Hh0ekIjBDY
— Damien Tiernan (@damienwlr) June 20, 2021
What started as an act desperate to tear the queer community down, has only proven our strength, resilience, and power in numbers.
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