ENNIS Town Council is being urged to say “I do” to allow marriage registration and civil partnerships, providing legal recognition for same sex couples, to be held in the civic offices of the local authority.
At this week’s meeting of the council, Councillor Brian Meaney insisted the civic offices on the Drumbiggle Road would be the ideal location for couples to celebrate their special day.
“I have been professing this for some time. I understand the layout of the room would be acceptable to the registrar and while the availability of the room may be problematic, I believe the council should allow the offices to be used as a ceremonial building for marriage and civil partnership registration. If people don’t want to go to a hotel, there is no place available for them in Ennis for these kind of ceremonies and that is not an acceptable situation.”
He added that the civic building is currently not being used to its potential. “We could proactively look at the timetable to see what could be done about hosting these events. It’s a beautiful room with a grand piano in situ, lighting and toilet facilities. A room once used generates a life and a soul for itself and when you walk into the civic rooms you feel a cold chill because it isn’t been used. This is an opportunity and I believe we can progress this forward.”
Niall O’Keeffe, administrative officer for the town council, informed the meeting that under the Civil Registration Act 2004, the solemnisation of marriages by the registrar at a venue, other than the offices of the registrar, requires the approval of the HSE.
At present there is no approved venue in Ennis and in most cases, couples from Ennis use the Registrar’s office in Limerick.
“There is no suitable venue within the accommodation occupied by the HSE in Ennis. Approval is subject to a number of conditions requiring certain standards of accommodation and furnishing, capacity and unhindered but managed public access. These requirements would preclude the use of the civic room on a Monday to Friday basis, as well as some Saturday mornings, which are traditionally booked for the Clare Music Makers. Availability is therefore restricted to Saturday afternoons.”
He stated the council could discuss the matter further with the HSE and Registrar but the limited availability of the room “may prove problematic”.
“In any arrangement, the council’s full cost in letting out and managing the room will have to be recovered,” he concluded.
Town manager Ger Dollard added the local authority would be open to further discussing the proposal but that the operations of Ennis Town Council would have to be a priority in making the room available.
Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Michael Guilfoyle described Councillor Meaney’s proposal as “one of the best notices of motion in a long time”.
“This is a great opportunity if it can be worked out and I am hopeful it can,” he said.