Gay groups welcome Ryanair's Valentine offer
Have Ryanair subtly lent their support to same-sex relationships ahead of May's marriage referendum?
A new Valentine-themed competition by the airline, called #LoveRyanair, asks couples to tweet photos with their partners and explain what far-flung location they would like to go to for the ultimate Valentine's Day getaway.
The promotion includes photos of various loved-up couples making their pitch for one of the ten return flights up for grabs - including one all-female couple.
Like the other photos, the smiling pair are holding a sign which reads: "#LoveRyanair make our Valentine's Day, get us to Rome."
A blurb on the Ryanair website explains the competition is open to all people over the age of 18 and that there are ten free return flights up for grabs.
"To be in with a chance to win the tickets, tweet @Ryanair a picture of you and your Valentine include #LoveRyanair and where you want to go. Our 10 winners will receive return tickets to their destination," the advertisement states.
A Ryanair spokesman said the competition was not connected to the upcoming referendum or the campaign for same-sex marriage. He told the Irish Independent that the holiday was "open to all couples".
"We love all of our customers equally and this is a competition for any and all customers over the age of 18," he said.
The airline's promotion was last night welcomed by gay and lesbian rights campaign groups, including LGBT Noise who said the inclusion of a same sex couple was "symbolic".
"It's been an encouraging feature of the referendum campaign so far. Newstalk radio are running a similar competition 'OpenToAll' which offers a wedding to any couple regardless of sexuality. It's symbolic as it shows where Ireland is now," he said.
Brian Sheehan from the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) said the campaign "reflected the reality of what is happening on the ground in every county around the country".
"Gay people have been having these conversation for a long time but ordinary people are now considering these issues for the first time and it is encouraging that it is reflected in a national campaign," he added.