By Eoin English
A gay couple's wedding day has ended in heartbreak over a last-minute legal hitch.
Dolores Murphy and her partner, Mabel Stoop-Murphy, were told that a 24-hour notice period required under the Civil Registration Act had not elapsed, and their wedding could not go ahead today as planned.
The couple, who got the news after they arrived at the registry office in Cork city to tie the knot at noon, left minutes later in tears.
Visibly upset, Dolores said they were heartbroken and weren’t sure what they are going to do now.
“This was supposed to be the best day of our lives and as usual the Government let us down again,” she said.
The women were hoping to be among the first same sex couples to wed under the new Marriage Act 2015 which began officially recognising same-sex marriages yesterday after being signed into law last week.
Couples registering for marriage must wait three months before a ceremony can be held, but this does not apply if there is an existing civil partnership.
Under the Civil Registration Act 2014, a minimum of five days' notice has to be given but this can be reduced at the discretion of the local registrar. Couples must also sign a declaration of no impediment.
Dolores and Mabel, who were joined in civil partnership in 2011, gave their five days' notice and then revoked their civil partnership in Cork’s births, deaths and marriages office just after 9am yesterday.
They also signed the declaration of no impediment, which they thought cleared the way for the wedding ceremony.
But it was only when they arrived at the registry office at noon, that senior staff told them that following advice from the General Registry Office in Roscommon, their wedding could not go ahead as planned because of a notice issue linked to the declaration.
Staff told them that under Section 46 1B of the Civil Registration Act, 24 hours must pass between the signing of the declaration and the actual wedding ceremony.
They apologised profusely to the couple for the late notice.
The couple left in tears and where whisked home in a taxi and they said they will need time to decide what to do next.