This year 60,000 people attended the Dublin Pride parade on Saturday, June 30 making it the biggest to date. Speaking at Smithfield, festival director Jed Dowling noted that this years parade saw a 100% increase in attendance saying, “Last year there were 30,000 of us and we filled the whole city.”
The parade festivities kicked off in Stephens Green with a number of notable figures and organisations in the LGBT+ community giving speeches marking the start of a wonderful day of pride, protest and celebration.
Speaking about the need for LGBT+ supports for asylum seekers in direct provision, the recent homophobic attack on a gay couple in Laois, Adam Long of the NXF said, “as we celebrate let’s remember Pride has a hugely political dimension.”
Marina from the youth advisory panel in Jigsaw spoke about self-love saying, “Today is not just about celebrating our love for one another, but about loving ourselves for who we are in all our entirety.”
Daniel from Act Up spoke about celebrating our diversity and power as a community together, but we still have an enemy: HIV. He encouraged the community to get tested and get on PrEP, “If you are HIV positive, you are the solution, we fight stigma with science. HIV doesn’t stop me from living, and it shouldn’t stop anyone in this crowd who is HIV positive.”
Bella Fitzpatrick, Director of ShoutOut, announced that they had conducted 350 workshops in 102 schools this year meaning the spoke to 10,000 students about LGBT+ issues but there is still work to do. “Yes we have marriage equality, yes we have gender recognition, which doesn’t go far enough, but these pertain to adults. It’s still hard to be LGBT+ in Irish schools because we don’t talk about queer identities, it doesn’t come up and that is not good enough.”
Grand Marshal of Dublin Pride, Sara R Philips who is the Chair of TENI, said “let’s not get complacent, there is still so much more to do. Even today in Istanbul, the Pride march has been banned again. There will be violence on the streets there in coming weeks, this is not just accepted around the world we keep on having this issue. We need to remember those people, we need to remember and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and friends around the world. So remember, don’t get complacent, these rights have been hard fought for and won.”
Also speaking at the Parades starting point were families from LGBT Ireland, David Norris, who said “I have seen it all in one lifetime”, Sharon Nolan from Bi+ Ireland, Bulelani Mfaco, an asylum seeker who is living in Direct Provision in Ireland, Saidhbh from Radical Queers Resist, Ailbhe Smyth and Moninne Griffith and Seamus from BeLonG To.
Mary McAleese and her husband Martin McAleese marched with her son Justin and his husband Dr Fionán Donohoe.
This year’s parade route remained the same as last with marchers travelling from Stephen’s Green to Smithfield via Cuffe St, Kevin St, Patrick St, Nicolas St, High St, Bridge St, Church St and North King St.
There were complaints on Twitter who deemed the route a “disgrace” feeling that the parade should have a more central route through the city.
Tonie Walsh said “34 years ago and for most years in-between, we marched and paraded through the main streets of Dublin. Shame on @DublinCityHall and @DublinPride for shunting the parade onto the city’s side streets. This is not visibility! Time for change.”
Happy Pride! 34 years ago and for most years in-between, we marched and paraded through the main streets of Dublin. Shame on @DublinCityHall and @DublinPride for shunting the parade onto the city's side streets. This is not visibility! Time for change. pic.twitter.com/jYvEER5y7U
— Tonie Walsh (@tonie_walsh) June 30, 2018
Some users agreed with Tonie’s sentiments echoing that the route should not be hidden away in the “city’s corners”.
Philly McMahon said: “Hear hear – despite the best efforts of the Dublin Pride organisers, the parade route is a disgrace. This must change. Pride is being hidden away in the city’s corners.”
Some also pointed out that the route is inaccessible for those with disabilities. One user said they would have needed mobility aids to walk the route.
It’s also incredibly inaccessible. I can’t walk this year, I’m not able for the journey without mobility aids, and I don’t know if I’d be allowed in Smithfield with them. I’m so disappointed.
— CíarTÁ (@ciaragemmam) June 30, 2018
Dublin Pride have responded to complaints of the route saying “Dublin Pride work closely with Dublin City Council, the Gardai and our event planners to operate a safe and fun route for the Pride Parade to take us all from St. Stephens Green South to Smithfield Square. We are constantly working to improve the route and the festival in general.
“To be clear, Dublin Pride has not given up the idea of going down O’Connell Street ever again but it’s a more complicated & costly process as an ever-growing festival and will require significant governmental support. We are incredibly dedicated to working with all the stakeholders, most importantly our LGBTQ community to make Dublin Pride the best event it can possibly be, after all, we are family.”
Some were also disappointed at the amount of corporate sponsorship at this year’s parade.
Dublin Pride’s Chair Clodagh Leonard addressed this in her speech at Smithfield saying, “We think this could be better […] If you think this is good enough then Happy Pride. As someone who works in the LGBTQ community, I don’t think it’s good enough. I don’t think having one day of celebration and protest is good enough. I don’t think asking for corporate sponsors, because we can’t get money from the Government – but suddenly there is €20 million for the Pope to come to Dublin – is good enough.
“If this is good enough then I’m fine with that but it’s not good enough for me. We’ll continue fighting until the battle is over because We Are Family.”
In what was a historic moment, members of Irelands Defence Forces took part in the Dublin Pride Parade for the first time ever.
Sgt Richard Muldarry who is the Chairperson of the Defence Forces LGBTA network, Defend With Pride, told GCN:
“The Defence Forces and its members are a mirror of society. Although highly trained and skilled, we are, just like everyone else, a group of diverse individuals, who have family and friends just like anyone else. We have different sexual orientations, genders, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs, yet we work together to serve our country and the people within it. The Defence Forces allow us simply to be ourselves.
“This year’s participation in Pride, in our uniform gave us the opportunity to show everyone that we are proud of who we are. We wanted to show the world that the Defence Forces are a diverse, inclusive organisation. We wanted to give hope and strength to the LGBTQ community. Let young and older alike know that you can be yourself and achieve your dreams and goals. You must use the support available to you and accept who you are and in turn, the world is yours.
“For me personally it was an emotional yet empowering moment in history that I’m beyond proud to be a part of.”
Images by Karl Hayden.
This article was updated at 21:30 to include a statement from Dublin Pride regarding the parade route.
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