Northern Ireland

Same-sex marriage: Northern Ireland couple among first to marry under new Irish law

Darren and Tony Day Image copyright Hillgrove Hotel
Image caption Darren (left) and Tony Day said they were delighted to publicly declare their love for one another

A Northern Ireland couple who are among the first to wed under the Republic of Ireland's new same-sex marriage law said they are "thrilled" to be able to call each other "husband and husband".

Tony and Darren Day held their wedding day in County Monaghan on Saturday.

But their Irish marriage was not legally recognised until Tuesday, when a short ceremony made it official.

The County Antrim couple said it is "a matter of time" until same-sex marriage is legalised in Northern Ireland.

It is the only part of the UK where gay marriage is not legal.

Island

Speaking after their legal exchange of vows on Tuesday, Belfast man Darren said it had been "a happy coincidence" that he and Tony, from Lisburn, were one of the first gay couples to marry in the Republic of Ireland.

"It's been lovely to exchange our vows and to make it official, to finally be able to call each other husband and husband," he said.

"But Tony was joking that we would only be able to do that for 10 minutes until we went back over the [Irish] border.

"As far as we're concerned, we're married - we got married on this island."

Image copyright Hillgrove Hotel
Image caption The couple became legally married in the Republic of Ireland after a short exchange of vows on Tuesday

The couple had first began planning in January for a civil partnership ceremony, and booked a County Monaghan hotel for 14 November.

But as the months passed and same-sex marriage was passed in a referendum in the Republic of Ireland in May, their hopes began to rise that they could instead have a marriage ceremony.

Official

Darren said: "We knew the law was coming and we hoped it would be in place by that date.

"There was talk it would be in place in September, then by late autumn, and as it got closer we were getting excited, thinking: 'This could be more than a civil partnership, it could be a wedding.'"

Image copyright Darren and Tony Day married on Tuesday
Image caption The County Antrim couple said it is "a matter of time" until same-sex marriage is legalised in Northern Ireland.

The same-sex marriage legislation came into effect on Monday, two days after the couple's big day.

They decided to have their planned "wedding day" on Saturday and remain in the Republic of Ireland until Tuesday, when they could make their marriage official.

Image copyright Darren and Tony Day
Image caption Darren and Tony Day at their wedding reception with friends and family

On Saturday, Tony's son eight-year-old Parker walked the couple up the aisle for a service in front of 220 guests, with an evening reception including a cabaret.

"Saturday's ceremony had no legal effect, but it was absolutely terrific to publicly declare our love," Darren said.

Holding

"It was so sweet, and I've never sensed a feeling of love like that.

"Parker suggested holding our hands and walking us up the aisle, which was amazing for a child so young to have that idea."

Darren, whose birth surname is Baird, has taken his husband's surname after their marriage.

He added that he believed their marriage would be legally recognised in Northern Ireland "sooner rather than later".

A majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members voted in favour of same-sex marriage for the first time earlier this month.

But the motion was blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party.

"In some ways our wee country is amazing; in other ways it's backward. It will happen some time."

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