Leo Varadkar and Enda Kenny at a news conferenceWilliam Murphy/Flickr

The Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny announced that the referendum on same-sex marriage in Ireland will take place on May 22.

Speaking on RTÉ’s “Prime Time” on Thursday evening, Kenny spoke of his hopes that support for same-sex marriage would come through on the polls, adding that he believed that the majority of Oireachtas (government) members supported the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“It is about understanding and respect and understanding and sensitivity.”

Kenny was also eager to stress that the referendum result will have a direct effect on the way Ireland is viewed internationally and will set out an “image of a very tolerant and inclusive Ireland.”

The proposal to be put to Irish voters on May 22 will be: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”, phrasing which which Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald has described as “clear and precise”. The referendum will also ask voters to decide if the minimum age requirement for candidates standing for presidency should be lowered from 35 to 21.

The referendum has received cross-party support with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin announcing their support in January following the decision by Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Joan Burton to hold the vote before Christmas. A recent poll by the Sunday Independent shows that one in five Irish voters are still undecided although the same poll showed 62 percent were voting in favor and 16 percent against.

The announcement comes as controversy still ensues regarding the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade and the inclusion of Irish LGBT groups in the celebration.

Dublin Gay Pride. Photo by: orzeczenie/Getty Images

Dublin Gay Pride. Photo by: orzeczenie/Getty Images