herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Country's first same-sex marriages may not happen until next year

Court challenge to the May 22 referendum result risks taking months to be dealt with

Deirdre Nally, left and Fiona Dullaghan celebrate the Yes Vote outside Dublin city hall on Dame Street in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 23/5/2015
Deirdre Nally, left and Fiona Dullaghan celebrate the Yes Vote outside Dublin city hall on Dame Street in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 23/5/2015

THE country’s first same-sex marriages may not now happen before the new year.

A court challenge to the May 22 referendum result risks taking months to be dealt with.

The draft law, giving effect to the vote, is ready to go before the Dail and Seanad and was expected to be cleared before the summer recess next month.

But it cannot be debated and voted by TDs and senators until the courts deal with the case. Government officials told the Herald they cannot act until the Courts decide the matter.

“We do not know how long that will take,” one source told the Herald.

A three-month notification period is required for marriage. If the new law was enacted next month, the first ceremonies could have happened before Christmas.

The Dail is due to begin summer holidays on July 18.

Appeals against the referendum’s outcome mean it may not consider the proposed

legislation until mid-September at the very earliest. One lawyer said the Court of Appeal had a backlog of cases to work through and the delay could last for months.

Two people, Gerry Walshe an electrician from Co Clare, challenged the referendum result in the High Court arguing that he was not against gay rights.

Mr Walshe’s arguments included a claim that taxpayers’ money, via the political parties, was funding the ‘Yes’ campaign who had up to 10 times more posters in his locality.

challenge

The second challenge came from Maurice Lyons, a gardener from Co Kilkenny, who said people did not in effect know what they were voting for because they had not seen the legislation which would follow the referendum. He also argued that those who abstained effectively backed no change.

High Court President, Mr Justice Nicholas, rejected these arguments on June 5. But Mr Walshe is now expected to pursue his case in the newly-established Court of Appeal.

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