Fianna Fail TD and Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has told the Sunday Business Post that he is working on cabinet approval for a civil partnerships bill that could be enacted before 2010.

Ahern told the Sunday Business Post that the recognition of civil partnerships would be ‘‘implemented in full through the forthcoming Civil Partnership Bill, which I will publish within weeks’’

Kieran Rose, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), welcomed the development.

“This is an historic civil rights reform that will resolve many immediate and pressing issues faced by lesbian and gay couples, and the Minister and the Government are to be congratulated on bringing forward this complex and comprehensive legislation and committing to its early enactment.

“This is a human rights reform whose time has come. All political parties have played a role in getting us to this point and there is huge public support for change.”

Rose did sound a note of caution and higlighted one integral issue for GLEN members: the recognition of children being reared by same sex couples, saying the “inclusion of legal recognition of children being parented by same-sex couples will be critical for the welfare of these children.”

The proposed bill will recognize same sex couples right for issues like property rights, pensions, social security, succession, payment of maintenance and taxation.

Ahern hopes that the bill, once approved, will go before the Dail (Irish Parliament) in the autumn session, and if successfully passed could come into law before the turn of the year.

Gay marriage is not legal in Ireland, and to make it so would involve changing the Irish constitution, which would require a national referendum.

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