Pride in the civil service
by Gary Fagan & Catherine Bermingham

When customers of the Stonewall Inn, New York finally fought back against police raids on the bar in the summer of 1969, few involved in the ensuing three days and nights of rioting which followed could have truly appreciated just how profound their actions would be. Here, the modern gay rights movement was born, and soon Pride parades and festivals would become an increasingly regular and notable calendar event in cities around the world.


Here in Ireland, things took a little longer to get going. The first parades in the early 1980s were vital to the visibility of LGBT people in Ireland, a population still criminalised under Irish law at the time. Just as the patrons of the Stonewall Inn had decided ‘enough is enough’, the 1981 murder of Declan Flynn in Dublin’s Fairview park, galvanised a previously invisible Irish gay population, along with many of their allies and supporters.


Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. The decriminalisation of homosexuality, the Marriage Equality referendum, and the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act are all signifiers of this progress.


Today, Pride is often less about protest, and more of a celebratory event. However, this makes it no less important or relevant. A Pride parade is important to every single person who takes part, and every single person watching it wind its way through our streets. While we have made great strides forward, we recognise that there are other parts of the world where this is not the case, and where Pride simply cannot happen. The Pride parades and festivals which colour our summer months send a powerful message of solidarity, inclusion and belonging.


Happy Pride!


Pride and the Civil Service

2019 was the first time that the civil service formally participated in the Dublin Pride parade under the “Proud to Work for Ireland” banner, with 600 civil and public servants marching from government departments including the Department of Social Protection (DSP), An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service, the Courts Service and the National Museum of Ireland. 


In 2020, a DSP engagement and innovation (E&I) steering group was established, with volunteer representatives from across the department. Its objectives were to plan Pride events, promote LGBTI+ diversity and inclusion and examine the culture, bias and awareness in relation to LGBTI+ inclusion. 


The DSP 2020 Pride celebrations were a great success. We participated in the virtual pride parade, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada was lit up in rainbow colours, a daily quiz was held, a survey was rolled out, an LGBT terminology guide and pronouns terminology leaflet was distributed and posters went up across the department. There were also a number of cross departmental events including panel talks, a Netflix viewing party and virtual pride quiz.


In July 2020 the LGBTI+ E&I group ceased and transitioned into a staff network, which is supported by over 100 volunteer. Allies across the country and by the HR equality diversity and inclusion (ED&I) team.


In addition, DSP Secretary General, John McKeon launched DSP’s first ED&I policy outlining the Department’s commitment to foster a working environment that is inclusive of all our colleagues.  


We have a number of exciting events planned, including a cross department quiz on the 24th June, so watch this space to see what’s in store.


If you wish to get involved please email


On the blog

Queer liberation and the labour movement have walked hand in hand for decades. But have they strayed apart in recent times? This Pride month Mehak Dugal looks at the interwoven and complementary histories of both movements, and considers what has changed along the way. Read more HERE.


It’s never been more important – or more easy – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.

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