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Gay couple in train row tell how they got married status

A GAY married couple who were not allowed on to a train to Cork have won the right to have married entered into their medical files.

Noel Dolan married Juan Carlos Camacho Suarez in a ceremony in Barcelona last year, where gay marriage is legal.

Irish Rail have apologised for a mix up which occurred last weekend after a gay rights march in Dublin, when officials said their free travel pass was not valid.

Mr Dolan, from Cork, is on a disability allowance and qualifies for a travel pass which covers his partner. But staff at Iarnrod Eireann did not recognise the validity of the pass and barred the couple from boarding the 6pm train back to Cork.

It has now emerged that late last year, Mr Suarez was admitted to Cork University Hospital and managed to have the status changed to married -- making them one of the first couples in the country to have a legal marital status.

"When the medical bills started coming in I went to the HSE and the Department of Social Protection last Thursday to get help," Noel said.



fanfare

"They photocopied the English translation of our Spanish wedding certificate -- we were married on March 20 2010 in Barcelona -- and opened a file for us accordingly. No fuss, no fanfare, all very matter-of-factly".

The first Irish civil partnerships took place in April and gay and lesbian couples are equal in areas such as residency, social welfare, property, succession, pensions and tax. However, the couple found that officials in Iarnrod Eireann were not aware of the equal benefits.

Mr Dolan said that an official ordered them to stand aside and told them that the company did not recognise same-sex marriages.

And he claimed that a second official told them that as far as he was concerned, they were not allowed to use a travel pass.

Mr Dolan said that it was "ignorant, reprehensible and inexcusable" that staff with Irish Rail would treat him and his husband like that.

Iarnrod Eireann spokesman Barry Kenny said that he wished to "sincerely apologise" to Mr Dolan and his partner.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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