SAME-SEX couples who travel from Ireland to marry in the UK will have their status recognised in this country if next year's referendum is passed.
A Department of Justice spokesman last night confirmed that – prior to the referendum – same-sex marriages in England and Wales would be recognised as civil partnerships in Ireland.
If the referendum allowing same sex marriage in Ireland is passed, however, unions that took place in 45 foreign countries will be granted retrospective recognition as marriages in this jurisdiction.
"A same-sex marriage contracted in England or Wales would be recognised as a marriage in Ireland, from the date on which same-sex marriage were to become available here, should the referendum to be held during the first half of 2015 pass,'' the Department of Justice said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Stonewall, one of the largest gay rights campaign groups in Britain, this weekend said it was receiving "dozens and dozens" of calls from interested Irish couples who are "really keen" to get married in the UK. The first same-sex weddings in England and Wales will take place from March 29.
"We made a few shout-outs on social media and asked people to get in touch with us if they're planning to tie the knot.
"We've had a really great take-up from people in Ireland and other parts of the world," Stonewall spokesperson Richard Lame told the Sunday Independent.
"We also run an information service and I know they've spoken to lots of people. It's impossible to say how many calls we've received from Ireland, but I know the response has been high.
"Local councils in the UK have also been hearing from lots and lots of Irish couples."
Mr Lame said many of the queries related to the exact process required to undergo a marriage in Britain.
"The procedures are exactly as apply to a heterosexual couple. Couples need to give formal notice of their intention by March 13. Since the date was announced, we've had more and more people contacting us to outline their plans and start booking things. It's been an even balance between male and females."
Gay and Lesbian Equality Network director Brian Sheehan said he was not surprised by the surge of interest from Irish couples in availing of UK marriage laws.
"Until the law is changed in Ireland, many people will go to England, Wales and Scotland, and even to locations such as New York and Spain, in order to get married. So we hope that it won't be too long until gay couples can get married here at home, rather than having to travel abroad," he said.