Dáil passes Civil Partnership Bill


The Bill recognising the civil partnership of same-sex couples passed all stages in the Dáil tonight without a vote.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said the Civil Partnership Bill would put in place a legal regime that reflected the many forms of relationships in modern Irish society.

"Our society has change substantially in recent decades,’’ he said. “While marriage is more popular than ever, other forms of relationships have become increasingly common; they create some difficulties in the legal system and require in our law a measure of recognition and of protection."

Fianna Fáil Tipperary South TD Mattie McGrath spoke against the Bill, claiming it had far-reaching consequences for over 120,000 cohabiting couples who would find themselves in a legal web not of their own making.

There was a protest outside Leinster House against the legislation.

When the debate was concluded inside, however, there was applause from people in the public gallery.

Just over a month ago, the Bill was approved by the Dáil's Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights. The purpose of the new Bill is to establish an extensive package of rights, obligations and protections for same-sex couples who register as civil partners.

All parties in the Oireachtas formally supported the legislation, although individual TDs and Senators have expressed criticism.

A number of amendments were made during the committee stages of the Bill including an increase in the period of cohabitation required to qualify for certain rights included in the legislation. The legislation is not expected to become law until the autumn.

The Catholic bishops have come out strongly against the legislation. However, Government ministers recently dismissed claims from them that the Bill may be unconstitutional.

The bishops called on the Government to support a free vote for all TDs and Senators on the Bill.