Labour leader Gilmore says same sex
marriage vote could take place next year

The Irish Labour party has indicated that a referendum to decide whether to allow gay marriage could take place as soon as next year.

Its leader, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, said that there would be "no undue delay" in tabling the vote, which may take place during 2014 alongside a series of other proposals.

Gilmore's comments took place during a press conference following Dublin's ceremony for the National Day of Commemoration yesterday, a nationwide commemoration day for fallen war heroes.

Rumours are mouting that neither of the two government parties will adopt formal party policies on the gay marriage vote, to avoid the kind of acrimonious tensions and impositions of the party whip system that characterized the controversial passage of the Abortion legislation.

That Bill was formally passeed by the Dáil last week and iss now making its way through Ireland's largely insignificant second chamber, the Seanad (Senate), where six days have been set aside for its debate and likely passage.

Should the House approve the Bill, it will be forwarded to the President, who can either sign the bill directly into law as expected or refer it to the Supreme Court for judicial review.

The promised referendum follows the recommendation of the Constitutional Convention this April to hold such a vote on the hotly divise issue, which also endorsed, by overwhelming majority, such legislation.

The Convention, largely comprised of a representative sample of Ireland's population, can only make suggestived proposals, but its views have been proved influential in steering the political agenda.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to take a public stand on the gay marriage debate, although other Ministers, including Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, have publicly backed the proposals.

Opponents of the legislation argue that civil partnership legislation, passed in Ireland in 2010, make giving formal recognition to gay marriage superfluous.  However, same sex marriage is estimated to enjoy about 75% frmo the Irish population, according to polls.

The move will also likely see negative campaigning from the Catholic Church and associated religious lobbies who reacted with disappointment at news of the recent Dáil vote on abortion.