Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, has criticised Joan Burton’s decision not to march in the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York unless there is progress towards the inclusion of LGBT groups.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, 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.
The Minister was responding to the decision for Minister for Social Protection and Labour deputy leader Joan Burton saying will not be attending the New York parade when she is in the city for the annual festivities.
Varadakar told Dublin reporters “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.
“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.”
Labour Party Minister Burton will be in New York on government business at the same time as Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny but will not attend the parade. Burton marched in the New York parade two years ago.
She said “I was in New York two years ago, like other ministers in New York, I met the Irish gay and lesbian community there.
“My understanding two years ago was that there were very positive moves to make the parades much more inclusive, which is what I’d like to see because it is a fun day for people in New York and the Irish gay and lesbian community there want to be represented as a significant Irish group and I support that.
“In the context of the mayor saying that until the parade is more inclusive, he is standing aside from it. I advised the Tanaiste (deputy PM) that if I went to New York, unless that progress was forthcoming, I wouldn’t be going.”
Varadakar 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.