Thousands gather to celebrate Pride in Dublin 25 years after Ireland decriminalised homosexuality

Thousands gather to celebrate Pride in Dublin 25 years after Ireland decriminalised homosexuality

TENS OF THOUSANDS of people took to the streets of Dublin today to celebrate the city's annual Pride parade.

The theme of this year's parade was "We Are Family" and began at 2pm in St Stephen's Green to end at Smithfield shortly after 4pm.

The colourful celebrations came 25 years after Ireland decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 and just a week after the Irish Government publicly apologised to men convicted under previous anti-gay laws.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the first Irish PM to be gay and to attend a Pride parade, said the men had been "alien in their own country for their entire lives".

He added: "We cannot erase the wrong that was done to them. What we can say is that we have learned as a society from their suffering.

"Their stories have helped change us for the better; they have made us more tolerant, more understanding and more human."

This afternoon's parade featured floats from a number of LGBT organisations as well as firms such as Tesco - one of this year's sponsors.

Among those who came out to show their support were activist protesting the Pope's upcoming visit and what they claim is homophobia within the Catholic Church.

Former President Mary McAleese was spotted walking in the parade alongside her husband Martin, their son Justin and his husband Fionan before giving a speech to the crowd.

Members of the Defence Forces were also in attendance for the very first time in uniform.

Health minister Simon Harris sent out good wishes to all involved.

He tweeted: "Happy Pride everyone! Have a great day celebrating equality, inclusiveness and love #loveislove #dublinpride #equality".

The Republic of Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote in 2015, after a referendum which saw 62% of the population vote in favour.

The first Dublin Pride parade took place in 1983 with just 200 participants - compared to 30,000 last year.

Pride is now the second largest festival in Ireland after St Patrick's Day.