The Government today considered the Third Report of the Convention on the Constitution, Amending the Constitution to provide for same-sex marriage. The Government agreed to the holding of a referendum during the first half of 2015.

Speaking today the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, said "I am very pleased that in response to the memo that I brought to Cabinet, the Government today agreed to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage during the first half of 2015. My Department will be engaged over the next 12 months with the Attorney General on the framing of the specific amendment to the Constitution and on the drafting of the Bill required for the referendum on this important matter. 

"Following on from the Government’s decision, I will shortly report to the Dáil on the Government’s positive response to the Constitutional Convention’s Third Report. The Government shares the concern of Mr. Tom Arnold, the Chairman of the Constitutional Convention that people be better informed in relation to referendums and is also concerned to ensure that questions put to the people in referendums give rise to no misunderstanding or confusion. These are issues the Government will be giving further consideration to and it is also considering the possibility of a referendum commission being appointed earlier than has been the case up to now."

Minister Shatter also today gave the Cabinet a general briefing on the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2013, a draft of which he hopes to bring to Cabinet prior to Christmas. Details of the issues it is proposed the Bill will address are accessible on the Justice website (

5 November 2013


Note for Editors

Marriage is open to same sex couples in 7 EU member states at present: Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Denmark. Recent UK legislation will open marriage to same sex couples in England and Wales from January 2014, while Scotland is preparing its own legislation. Other jurisdictions permitting same sex marriage include Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay and some states within the USA.

The proposed Children and Family Relationships Bill 2013 will provide for a contemporary legal architecture addressing the diversity of family relationships within which children may be brought up. They include married families, families based on cohabiting couples, civil partnerships and families that rely on the care of children by members of the extended family. The Bill will also reflect the new constitutional provision relating to children resulting from the 2012 Constitutional Referendum. By providing for children within cohabiting and civil partnerships, it will address the legal status of children in such relationships, an important issue that was omitted from the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. It will provide clarity to an area of law which needs to be addressed in the best interests of children and, in doing so, ensure that no misunderstanding can arise with regard to these matters in the context of the referendum to be held in 2015.