A same-sex couple in Cork has become the first in Ireland to be legally recognised as co-parents of their children from birth.
Niamh O’Sullivan and Geraldine Rea, who live in Bishopstown, are the first same-sex couple in the country to have both their names registered on the official birth certificates of their twin baby girls, Réidín and Aoibhín.
In May of last year, the final sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 were enacted, allowing same-sex female couples to be legally recognised as co-parents of their children.
The legislation means that both the birth-mother of a child and the intending co-parent (the spouse, civil partner or co-habitant) can now register with the Registrar for the Births Deaths and Marriages as the parents of a child born as a result of a donor assisted human reproduction (DAHR) procedure.
Before last year, couples had to go through a lengthy court process in order for both parents to be legally recognised as the parents of their child.
"We were delighted when the legislation was enacted in May last year at a time when we were dreaming of becoming parents," said Ms O'Sullivan.
"Little did we know then that fate would lead us to being the first to benefit from this new law."
The couple had attended the Waterstone Clinic in Tivoli over a period of two years before Ms Rea became pregnant last summer.
"We had been due to have the frozen embryo transfer in March 2020, but the week of the scheduled procedure the Government lockdown came into place,” Ms O'Sullivan said.
"We were rescheduled and thanks to good timing and the hard work of the team at the clinic, the transfer took place two days after restrictions were lifted for fertility clinics, and we finally became pregnant."
Réidín and Aoibhín were born to their elated parents on February 4.
The couple want their legal recognition as co-parents to help pave the way for other same-sex couples in similar situations.
"It is monumental for us and a historic step towards LGBT+ equality, as many children with same-sex female parents can finally vindicate their right to have their family recognised," said Ms O'Sullivan.
Chief Executive of LGBT Ireland Paula Fagan said the recognition of Ms O'Sullivan and Ms Rea was "a major step forward" for LGBT rights children's in terms of recognition of their same-sex parents.
"This family were able to register in same way as any other family," she said.
"Young children need these parental relationships recognised for obvious areas like medical consent, vaccinations, schools - all of those which can be tricky when only one parent is recognised."
At present, the amended Children and Family Relationships Act only applies to female same-sex parents of a child born as a result of a donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR).
However, Ms Fagan said she was hopeful a proposed bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR), when published, would extend legal pathways to male same-sex parents.