Belfast Telegraph

Gay marriage in Northern Ireland should be permitted, says Taoiseach Varadkar

By David Young, PA

The DUP should stop using a controversial Stormont voting tactic to block the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said he told DUP leader Arlene Foster "very clearly" in their meeting last week that her party should discontinue its use of the petition of concern.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage remains outlawed.

The DUP has used the voting mechanism to prevent a law change, despite a majority of MLAs supporting the move at the last vote.

Mr Varadkar - the Republic's first gay premier - said when he met Mrs Foster and the DUP last week in Dublin, he expressed his "very strong view that marriage equality should be permitted in Northern Ireland" and the "petition of concern mechanism should not be used to block marriage equality".

He said there "wasn't a meeting of minds on this issue" but he would continue to raise the matter.

"I don't think there's any prospect that marriage equality will not continue in Ireland and in Britain. The only question is when, not whether, it will come about in Northern Ireland," he said.

The DUP has consistently rejected any suggestion it is homophobic, insisting it is instead protecting the "traditional" definition of marriage.

Asked about Mr Varadkar's comments during a press conference in Belfast, senior DUP member Simon Hamilton said: "Leo has a well stated and clear position on that and the DUP equally has a clear and well stated position in respect of that issue."

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