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The flag was raised beside Stormont House on Friday morning to mark the Pride festival.

Mr Varadkar said change to the law in Northern Ireland was on the horizon while he put in his show of support for the LGBT community at Pride Breakfast event at the Northern Whig pub in central Belfast.

He said: “I think it’s only a matter of time although it is of course a decision for the Northern Ireland assembly to take, but I am confident that like other western European countries they will make that decision in due course.” The Taoiseach added that he had turned up at the event “to state my support, my government’s support for equality before the law and individual freedom for all citizens no matter where they happen to reside”.

The DUP rejects any suggestion it is homophobic, insisting it is protecting the “traditional” definition of marriage, and has called for tolerance of what are increasingly minority views.