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Ahern signs order to enable civil partnerships

The Commencement Order is signed to bring the Civil Partnership Act into law as of January 1 next year.

IRISH PEOPLE will be able to enter into same-sex civil partnerships as of April 1, after justice minister Dermot Ahern today signed the commencement order to bring into effect the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act.

The Act, which was signed by President Mary McAleese in July after being passed unanimously by the Dáil and with a large majority in the Seanad, established a civil partnership registration scheme for same-sex couples and binds them to obligations on maintenance and protection of a shared home.

Though the Act will now formally come into effect from January 1, couples seeking to register for a civil partnership will be required to observe a standard three-month notice requirement, meaning the first registrations can take place from April onward.

Some registrations can take place before that, but they may only proceed if a court agrees to waive the three-month notice period – which can be done in circumstances where one partner has a serious illness, for example.

Parties to a civil partnership will be treated identically to married couples from a taxation and social welfare point of view under the new Act, which also establishes schemes to give protection to financially dependent people following long-term cohabiting relationships.

Justice minister Dermot Ahern said the new law would reflect “the many forms of relationships in modern Irish society”.

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“Gay couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the State, may now formalise their relationships in the eyes of the law and society at large,” he added.

Ahern also signed a separate order which acknowledges registered relationships from other legal jurisdictions as being equivalent to Irish civil partnerships as of January 1.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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