15 May 2015
By Tom Collins
“The Rainbow Flag is not just a symbol it is an action of inclusion and solidarity, that it why it has become an integral part of Cork LGBT Awareness Week” -Siobhán O’ Dowd, chair of the Cork City LGBT Interagency Steering Group said today. The diverse groups campaigning on the Marriage Equality referendum have all agreed on one key issue, their support for LGBT Inclusion and equality in society therefore Cork LGBT Week presents no challenges or difficulties for either, despite any comments to the contrary”
At 11am on Monday May 11th Deputy Lord Mayor Ken O’ Flynn raised the Rainbow Flag over Cork City Hall to inaugurate LGBT Awareness and this was followed by community groups and public agencies across the city raising their own rainbow flags at 12 noon. . Cork LGBT Week is in its fifth year and has been organised annually to co-incide with May 17th International Day against Homophobia & Transphobia – IDAHOT Day.
The formal launch of Cork LGBT Awareness Week took place in the Civic Offices on Monday 11th at 5pm with Deputy Lord Mayor Ken O’ Flynn together with Guests of Honour Valerie Mulcahy of Cork Ladies Football Team and Chief Supt Mick Finn of An Garda Siochana. A large group of City Councillors from all parties in Cork City Council were in attendance at the Launch, together with Senior Public agency representatives and Cork community groups.
While one councillor subsequently proposed that the Rainbow Flag be taken down because of the proximity to the upcoming referendum this was challenged by councillors from across the chamber, including Cllr John Buttimer who received the Rainbow Flag as a formal gift from our twin city San Francisco in 2013 when he was Lord Mayor . The rainbow Flag was first raised by Lord Mayor Cllr Catherine Clancy, accompanied by a cross-party group of Councillors , including previous Lord Mayor Cllr John Buttimer and current Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Shields. . As anyone who attended the launch can attest, the Interagency Steering Group stated clearly that the week is organised to promote LGBT Inclusion and challenge homophobia organised on the theme of Equality Matters: to everyone and for everyone . The chair of the Inter – agency group stated that it was not taking a position on the forthcoming referendum but could only encourage people to vote, and asked public service agencies and community groups to do like- wise.
Each successive LGBT Awareness Week since 2011 has increased in participation and support. It’s worth noting that a significant number of Public buildings have displayed the rainbow flag this year: HSE South at their CUH campus, Cork Institute of Technology, Cork College of Commerce, Cork City Partnership and Cork City Library; in addition 36 community group across the city are also displaying rainbow flags.
Public Response via Social media
• Cork LGBT Awareness Week Facebook – 300 new likes this week, seen by 16, 064.
• Flag flying over City hall 103 likes shared 55 times, seen by 13, 640
• Flag at CUH – 98 likes, Flag at Cork College of Commerce -47 likes.
In all of these significant numbers it’s worth noting that not one negative comment has been posted on our facebook wall. The large and diverse attendance at the launch of LGBT Week, the broad programme of events involving agencies, communities, colleges, churches and civic spaces has attracted significant participation suggesting that many people have taken our theme of Equality Matters to heart and are pleased to be part of an inclusive city.