Pope Francis met by pro-LGBT demonstrators and rainbow flags in Dublin

Pope Francis has been welcomed to Dublin by pro-LGBT demonstrators during his visit to Ireland.

Thousands of people have turned out to welcome the pontiff, who will embark on a tour of the city and County Mayo over the weekend.

Demonstrators waved rainbow flags and lined up on a bridge holding rainbow umbrellas. Representatives of the LGBT community have been invited to the State welcome for the Pope in Dublin Castle.

The event will involve a short private meeting between Ireland’s leader Leo Varadkar and the Pope before both men make a 10-minute speech.

Pope Francis disembarks from the aircraft as he arrives at Dublin Airport (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

It will be the first public statement by Pope Francis in Ireland and will be watched around the world, with many questioning whether he will make reference to the child abuse scandals.

Varadkar plans to tell the Pope that the exclusion of LGBT+ people from the Catholic Church “really hurts.”

He also hopes to tell him that he profoundly disagrees with the church’s terminology that casts LGBT+ people as “intrinsically disordered.”

Varadkar, who is Ireland’s first openly gay Taoiseach, said there is a conflict for LGBT+ Catholics between “who they are and the rules of the faith which they follow.”

He says that he will raise the issue of hurtful language and the exclusion of LGBT+ people with Pope Francis if he has the opportunity.

He made the comments in an interview with Irish state broadcaster RTÉ ahead of Pope Francis’s arrival in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic event which takes place every three years.

Varadkar said that he will enter into his meeting with Pope Francis with a sense of welcome and respect, but added that he will tell him that the Church must admit to its own sins.

Around 100,000 people are expected to welcome the Pope in Dublin on Saturday afternoon as he passes through.

In the evening, he will join pilgrims at a musical festival in the landmark Croke Park Gaelic Athletic Association stadium.

On Sunday the Pope will head to County Mayo to take part in a religious service at a Holy shrine in Knock, before returning to Dublin for the World Meetings of Families event, which is a huge outdoor mass.

Earlier this week, an LGBT+ choir staged a protest outside the event, where they sang “We Are Family” and “Something Inside So Strong” in response to the exclusion of LGBT+ people from the event.