On December 23, Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern signed the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, legislation recognizing gay couples and allowing civil unions in the Irish Republic. The law, which secures a range of rights over shared homes, maintenance payments and pensions, goes into effect January 1.
But under Irish law all couples, whether gay or straight, must give three months’ notice to their local registrar, so the first ceremony is expected to be in April. The waiting period, however, can be waived under extenuating circumstances such as illness. Any couple wishing to legally unite must also pay a notification fee of €150.
Justice Minister Ahern said:
Gay couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the State, may now formalise their relationships in the eyes of the law and society at large. Their relationships will be legally recognised and protected.