Ireland: Former equality minister comes out as gay

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Ireland’s former equality minister has come out as gay.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey, who was Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, revealed today that he is gay.

Mr Carey had been a prominent politician within the party, but he left politics when he lost his Dublin seat in the 2011 election.

The politician came out today, and cited current Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who came out last month, as his inspiration for doing so.

He told the Irish Times: “My only regret is that I didn’t have the courage or confidence to [come out while in politics].

“When I look back it’s an awful pity I didn’t feel able to do that. Nobody stopped me, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received.

I never had the confidence or the courage to do it, and it gets to a stage where you probably say to yourself ‘it’s too late for me to start talking about it now’.

He told RTE: “In terms of coming out, or whatever it was, a lot of people who are close-ish to me and who work with me would know it from early 2011 that I’m gay.

“But to be frank about it I didn’t have the courage or the confidence to talk about it to a wider audience. I’m sorry about that.

“It was in the context of Leo Varadkar that I said that if I got the opportunity – that maybe my perspective might be helpful to other people of my age.

“Lots of men and women, of my generation had the same difficulty that I had in terms of trying to come to terms with how you articulate your gender issues.”

Mr Carey also called for the parties to step up their campaigning, ahead of the the country’s referendum on same-sex marriage.

The former minister said: “I think getting people to come out and vote on the day of the referendum will be the biggest challenge.

“There has to be a campaign in place and political parties are the best equipped groups to organise these campaigns.”