Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that diplomats will continue to attend events organized by fraternal societies in the US.

Irish leader Leo Varadkar has rejected a call to boycott male-only events in the US organized by Irish-American fraternal societies. The Taoiseach believes that it would create a “double standard” with other countries where they also attend male-only events.

President of the US-Ireland Alliance Trina Vargo had emailed Varadkar in November, urging him to stop the practice and arguing that it was not representative of modern Irish America.

“I am writing to strongly encourage the Irish Government to stop sending diplomatic representatives to these men-only membership organisation events. It’s time to drag Irish America into the 21st century,” Vargo wrote, forwarding the Taoiseach a statement from the New York branch of male-only society The Friendly Sons of St Patrick that informed their members they were encouraged to bring female guests to its 235th-anniversary dinner in March 2018.

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“This is but one example why the very future of this relationship is in doubt. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to interest people in becoming involved in a contemporary US-Ireland relationship when this is their image of Irish America,” she added.

“The Irish Government is seen to endorse such organisations when it sends representatives to these dinners. Are women supposed to be impressed by this? I hope the Government will do the right thing here.”

Varadkar disagreed, however, believing that a “double standard” would be created to boycott such events in the US, while still attending male-only events in the Vatican, in Muslim countries or at LGBT events.

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“Ultimately, I believe in the politics of engagement rather than the politics of boycott. I think you’ve a better chance of changing heart and minds through relationship-building and persuasion rather than turning your back on people,” he said.

“I don’t think we could or should apply a double standard by boycotting male-only Catholic events in the US while still attending male-only events in the Vatican or the Muslim world or even gender-specific events organised by LGBT groups or women’s rights groups.”

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H/T: The Irish Times