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Varadkar calls for marriage equality in the North during Washington speech

He told the packed out auditorium that he was happy to march in the Pride parade in Belfast last year.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said same-sex marriage should be allowed in Northern Ireland.

Going off script during a speech on the Good Friday Agreement at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, Varadkar said Ireland is a changed place.

He told the packed auditorium that he was happy to take part in the Pride events in Belfast last year.

Varadkar said the largest parade in Belfast was neither “orange or green – but rainbow coloured” where Protestants and Catholics marched together.

“That is why, it seems so strange to me that in Northern Ireland … marriage equality is not a reality, it is not allowed,” he said.

“For me any rights of freedom that the British have in Britain, that the Irish have in Ireland, the people in Northern Ireland should have as well,” said Varadkar, with the comments resulting in a rapturous applause.

Sinn Féin has said that the issue of marriage equality is one of the sticking points holding up the re-establishment of the institutions in Northern Ireland. The DUP will not move on the issue.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said last month that when a deal for power-sharing was on the table, marriage equality was not included in the so-called “draft” agreement.

Speaking at the event in Washington, McDonald said the people in Northern Ireland should have freedom of equality – and this should include marriage equality.

Deputy leader Michelle O’Neill told reporters they need to deal with the issues that are causing the impasse in the North, adding that the people in Northern Ireland should not have their rights denied.

TheJournal.ie’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Leo Varadkar’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date by following @ChristinaFinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page.  

‘I carry Ireland with me everywhere I go’: Leo likely to indulge Pence and Ryan with talk of Irish roots>>

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