The AG clarified the situation after the Department of Social Protection was informed of the legal glitch by the Humanist Association of Ireland.
The HAI had threatened legal action over the “narrow and arbitrary” interpretation of legislation by the general registrar.
One Australian-based couple David Mulligan and Mary Duffy had been so disappointed that they couldn’t marry in the grounds of a Co Galway hotel that they contacted Robert Coonan of Warren Parkes Solicitors.
Upon reading the legislation, Mr Coonan decided there was “no particular reason why they [civil ceremonies] could not be held in gardens provided they were open to the public. There are very sound public policy reasons why they must be open, it’s to ensure there is no element of coercion,” said Mr Coonan.
The Civil Registration Bill is due to be amended in the autumn.
Michael O’Neill Junior runs Fernhill House Hotel &in Clonakilty. They built an outdoor wedding for civil ceremonies but haven’t been able to use it to date.
“We are delighted that we can eventually use the outdoor altar as we have over 100 weddings annually and many of these would like to marry outside,” he said.