TRANSPORT MINISTER LEO Varadkar has criticised his Cabinet colleague Joan Burton’s decision to avoid the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York next month unless there is progress in relation to the inclusion of LGBT groups.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin this morning, Varadkar said that it is better to take part in events rather than to boycott them as people who do so tend to be ignored.
He was reacting to the controversy surrounding the New York parade with the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, confirming last week that he will boycott the event because of the ban on participants from carrying gay rights signs.
“I don’t know who has received an invitation, but my general view when it comes to any issue it is better to take part than to boycott,” he said.
“We have rarely seen instances where boycotts have been successful. It is better to attend the event but at the event to tell people what you think. “
Last week, the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach said they would not follow his lead, but Eamon Gilmore said that the parade should be inclusive.
Speaking to Newstalk yesterday, Burton confirmed that she would turn down an invitation to take part in New York’s event, adding: “When I was there, I also met the gay groups and I advised the Tánaiste that if I went to New York, unless that progress was forthcoming, I wouldn’t be going.
She said that when she was there two years ago, it was her understanding that “positive moves” had been made in relation to making the parade more inclusive, which is something she said she would like to see.
Burton, a constituency rival of Varadkar’s in Dublin West, added that arrangements of St Patrick’s Day had not finalised yet, but it is understood that Enda Kenny is going to New York.
Speaking today, Varadkar insisted that the government is a “very strong supporter of LGBT rights” and said he would like to see coalition ministers attending events such as the NYC parade “rather than boycotting these things”.
“Because when you boycott, you’re just ignored,” he added.