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Friday 2 December 2016

'We've waited too long' - Couple denied marriage over bureaucratic glitch tie knot today

Published 18/11/2015 | 12:02

Dolores Murphy and Mabel Stoop-Murphy with James
Dolores Murphy and Mabel Stoop-Murphy with James

TWO women who waited 13 years to marry in Ireland admitted they weren't going to allow a 24 hour delay over a bureaucratic glitch spoil their wedding plans.

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Dolores Murphy and Mabel Stoop-Murphy got married in Cork this morning - 24 hours after they were left devastated by their failure to wed at Cork Registry Office over an unexpected technical hitch.

The couple were yesterday left visibly shocked - and later admitted they were "totally heartbroken" - after registry staff explained they couldn't proceed with the wedding because there wasn't a 24 hour period from when the duo signed their notification to marry forms.

Under 2004 regulations, a period of between 24 hours and five days must elapse between when the forms are signed and a couple get married.

The Marriage Act, 2015, came into law on Monday and all Irish couples planning to wed are covered by the same regulations.

Despite their devastation yesterday, Dolores and Mable were determined to get married as soon as legally possible.

They arrived at Cork Registry Office when its doors opened early this morning and exchanged their vows in a quiet ceremony.

"All we ever wanted was to be treated like any other Irish couple that loves each other," Dolores said.

"We were left a bit shell-shocked by yesterday but we weren't going to let it put us off our wedding plans. We've waited too long for that."

"Mable and I wanted to get married at the first opportunity and if that meant today rather than yesterday, so be it."

Having exchanged vows in the early morning ceremony, the couple went for a wedding breakfast in a nearby cafe with their son, James (2).

The couple were accompanied by their friends and witnesses, Paula Healy and Patricia Mullane, as well as James.

Dolores is from Pouladuff Road in Cork while Mabel hails from South Africa.

The couple live in Cork with their numerous pet dogs and cats.

"This is a great day not just for Mabel and myself but for Ireland," Dolores added.

Critically, the marriage ceremony offered Dolores legal rights to the little boy, James, that she is raising with Mabel.

"It still feels like a bit of a dream. I feel like pinching myself almost to check that it is real," she said.

It was an equally special day for Mabel.

"To be honest, I doubted that this day would ever arrive."

However, their wedding day in Cork Registry Office was tinged with sadness.

“It was bittersweet because there will really be just the two of us and our two witnesses,” Dolores explained.

“We have no family left.”

Dolores and Mabel entered a civil partnership and that was celebrated akin to a wedding with Dolores’ father, Con ‘Sylvie’ Murphy, proudly walking both women down the aisle.

Sadly, Sylvie died in 2013.

“My dad knew Mabel for more than 10 years and he adored her. We’re both so sad that he wasn’t here to share this special day with us.”

Typical of so many same-sex couples in Ireland, Dolores and Mabel did everything possible to have their relationship formally recognized.

They first exchanged solemn vows in a special ceremony and then entered a civil partnership when that became possible in Ireland from April 2011.

As a consequence of today's ceremony, the couple have now transferred their civil partnership into a full marriage.

“We both met when we were working in Merchant’s Quay Shopping Centre in Cork in 2002. Mabel was working upstairs, we met one day and the rest is history,” Dolores said.

Given that they celebrated their civil partnership like a wedding, there was a much lower key party after their marriage.

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