Latest: Varadkar marches alongside partner in New York's St Patrick's Day parade

Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
By Elaine Loughlin
Political Correspondent

Update 7.15pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has walked in New York's St Patrick's Day parade which up until recently had banned LGBT groups from marching.

Mr Varadkar said it was a real privilege to be able to march with his partner Matt Barrett in the parade.

"Only a few years ago people couldn't march under the rainbow banner, but that has all changed," Mr Varadkar said.

"Ireland has embraced diversity and inclusiveness, and certainly Irish America in New York embraces that too."

Up until recently, LGBT groups were not allowed to march in the annual New York parade on Fifth Avenue.

Prior to the change, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio boycotted the parade in protest.

Mr Varadkar said being in NYC on St Patrick's Day had given him a sense of how strong the Irish community is in the city and how proud people are of their Irish connections.

Prior the parade, he had said that on a personal level it was a pleasure to be taking part with his partner.

"(It's) a sign of change and a sign of great diversity, not just in Ireland but among the great community here as well," the Taoiseach said.

St Patrick's Day is the fourth and final stop on the Taoiseach's week-long visit to the US to promote Ireland.

Earlier: It will be a 'real privilege' to watch New York parade with partner, says Varadkar

By Elaine Loughlin Political Correspondent, In New York

The Taoiseach has said it will be a "real privilege" to march in the New York parade with his partner Matt Barrett today.

Speaking ahead of the famous St Patrick's Day parade Leo Varadkar said: “On a personal level it’s a real privilege to be here in New York, in a city that is so close to Ireland in so many different ways,”

Leo Varadkar speaks to the media outside St Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

After attending Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Mr Varadkar said: “I’d a chance to meet the Mayor and the Ambassador this morning and I’m going to be able to march in the parade now with my partner which is something that is a sign of change and a sign of great diversity, not just in Ireland but among the great community here as well.

Mr Varadkar attended breakfast at the Mayor of New York's mansion where Gerry Adams was honoured for his part in the Food Friday Agreement.

Speaking at the event Gerry Adams wished his audience a happy St Patrick’s Day and thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio and praised the support and solidarity of Irish America for peace in Ireland over many generations.

"Irish America has never lost sight of Ireland and the desire for peace and independence, and it continues to be as supportive of this today as in previous generations," said Mr Adams.

The Mayor announced that the day would be called Gerry Adams day in New York.

Asked if Mr Adams get the same honour back home, the Taoiseach said: "It's not our tradition to name days after particular individuals in Ireland. It is a tradition here and obviously I extend my congratulations to Gerry on that honour being bestowed on him by the city of New York."

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