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Friday 28 October 2016

Same-sex marriage joy - but anguish for one couple over bureaucratic glitch

Ralph Riegel and Paddy Clancy

Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30

The first ever same sex marriage in Ireland takes place between Richard Dowling (L) and Cormac Gollogly (R) in Clonmel
The first ever same sex marriage in Ireland takes place between Richard Dowling (L) and Cormac Gollogly (R) in Clonmel
Richard Dowling and Cormac Gollogly celebrate becoming the first same-sex couple in Ireland to marry after their ceremony in Clonmel Co Tipperary. Photo: John D Kelly
Dolores and Mabel Murphy leave the Registry Office in Cork after they were refused permission to marry due to a problem with the notice period given. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney

A couple are "devastated and heartbroken" after being refused their same-sex marriage because of a bureaucratic glitch.

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Dolores Murphy and Mabel Stoop-Murphy arrived at Cork Registry Office yesterday to wed in one of Ireland's first same-sex unions under the new Marriage Act, 2015.

However, they could not wed because 24 hours had not elapsed since they had signed notice to marry forms.

Nationwide, it was a slower-than-anticipated start to Ireland's same-sex marriage era following the 'Yes' referendum success last May.

Around a dozen marriages took place on the first day same-sex unions were legal. However, it is expected that 300 marriages will take place over the next fortnight.

But the joy of other same-sex couples nationwide stood in contrast to the desolation of Dolores and Mabel.

"I am heartbroken. We are absolutely devastated by this," Dolores said, fighting back tears. "This was supposed to be the best day of our lives. I'm sorry - I can't say anything more."

The couple were visibly distraught as they left the registry office and travelled home in a taxi.

Friends said registry office staff could not have been more helpful or sympathetic - but stressed they were bound by the stipulated 24-hour rule.

Under 2004 regulations, registrars have a five-day period from when wedding notifications are signed until the ceremony takes place.

However, registrars have the discretion to shorten that period to 24 hours.

Ireland's first same-sex marriage took place in Clonmel, Co Tipperary with Dublin-based couple, banker Richard Dowling and barrister Cormac Gollogly, exchanging vows.

The couple, who have been together for 12 years, wed at 8.30am thanks to South Tipperary Registrar Mary Claire Heffernan. They had met in The George pub in Dublin in 2003.

"We got civil-partnered on September 18 and all our family and friends were there. This is formalising the legalities of our marriage," Mr Dowling said.

In Donegal, Wayne Gough and David James 'DJ' O'Hanlon celebrated being among Ireland's first same-sex marriage partners with a hug and a kiss.

They tied the knot at 9.30am at one of Ireland's most beautiful settings overlooking Lough Eske at Harvey's Point Hotel outside Donegal Town.

The couple, who live in Lordship, near Carlingford, Co Louth, had a simple wedding before registrar Siobhan Duffy-Browne.

The Irish tricolour stood alongside a rainbow flag because the pair wanted to represent the LGBT community and to remember all those who had never made it to a wedding.

"We have been together nine years since a friend introduced us in Belfast," Wayne said.

In Mayo, Marina Tuffy and Cynthia Silva dreamed of getting married in Ireland but feared it might never happen.


They opted to exchange vows in the US instead 15 months ago. On Monday the couple marked the Irish recognition of their marriage with a small celebration with friends.

"For us, we've been married for 15 months but it was important to have the official recognition in our own country, being treated as a second-class citizen by our State has finally been removed," Marina said.

There are now 1,695 civil partnerships in Ireland registered between 2011 and 2014 - 1,048 between men and 647 between women.

Civil partnerships for same-sex couples first became available in Ireland in April 2011.

While same-sex marriage regulations were signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last month, it required a commencement order from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald on Monday for the regulation to become operational.

Upgrading a civil partnership to a marriage is not automatic, and it must be sought.

Irish Independent

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