Leo Varadkar didn't know he'd be marching alongside Conor McGregor at St Patrick’s Day parade

Leo Varadkar didn't know he'd be marching alongside Conor McGregor at St Patrick’s Day parade
Photos by Juno McEnroe

Latest: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has denied that he was aware that MMA fighter Conor McGregor would march in the Chicago St Patrick's day parade, writes Juno McEnroe in Chicago.

The fighter appeared at the top of the city's parade and marched close to Mr Varadkar during the walk through the streets.

Mr McGregor refused to answer media questions about his arrest in Miami, Florida, last week, but did say “I love Ireland.”

It is understood that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel invited Mr McGregor. The mayor also marched alongside the two Irish men.

Leo Varadkar didn't know he'd be marching alongside Conor McGregor at St Patrick’s Day parade

Speaking to reporters later on Chicago's river, which was traditionally dyed green for St Patrick's Day festivities, Mr Varadkar said:

“No, no I wasn’t actually, I imagine the parade organisers invited him, but that’s it really."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring during the Tourism Ireland Green Boat Trip in Chicago. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring during the Tourism Ireland Green Boat Trip in Chicago. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

He also said that the two did not talk during or after the parade march in the city.

Asked was it appropriate for the fighter, who has had numerous court appearances, to be in the parade to represent Ireland, Mr Varadkar responded:

“I think that is up to the organisers of the parade to decide who they want to march in the parade.

"I don’t think he was representing the country, that’s kind of what I was doing and Mr [Michael] Ring.”

Earlier (5:47pm): Leo Varadkar marches alongside Conor McGregor at Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and MMA fighter Conor McGregor have marched in the Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade, writes Juno McEnroe in Chicago.

Leo Varadkar didn't know he'd be marching alongside Conor McGregor at St Patrick’s Day parade

On the second leg of his US visit, Mr Varadkar was one of the top guests for the city march.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel also was among those in the front.

Leo Varadkar didn't know he'd be marching alongside Conor McGregor at St Patrick’s Day parade

Mr McGregor was arrested in Miami last week after being charged by police for allegedly slapping a phone out of the hands of a fan and stamping on it repeatedly after the man attempted to take a picture of the MMA star.

He then picked up the phone and walked away with it, police said.

Mr McGregor refused to answer media questions at the parade about his arrest, and would only say “I love Ireland.”

A government source said it was known Mr McGregor was in Chicago and the fighter had even been expected to attend the Irish Fellowship dinner on Friday night in the city, which Mr Varadkar also attended.

However, Mr Varadkar, speaking to the Irish Examiner, denied that he was aware the fighter was in Chicago or that he would attend the city parade.

Leo Varadkar didn't know he'd be marching alongside Conor McGregor at St Patrick’s Day parade

The Irish delegation organising Mr Varadkar’s itinerary in the US also said they were not aware the fighter would be in the parade.

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