Date set for Zappone and Gilligan Supreme Court Appeal

22 Oct 2010

KAL High Court Dec 2006 Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan (left) and Dr. Katherine Zappone outside the High Court in December 2006

A five judge Supreme Court will next February hear an appeal by a lesbian couple against a High Court ruling that they do not have the right to marry here under the Constitution.

Dr Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan previously said they believed clarification by the Supreme Court of the issues raised in their action was not only in their own interest but also in the public interest.

The case was mentioned briefly today before the Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray.

He was told by Michael Collins, for the couple, that his side's written submissions would be filed before the end of this law term on December 21st and the State submissions would be filed by the end of January, after which a date could be set for the appeal.

Mr Collins said a constitutional issue was involved as to whether there is a ban on same sex marriage so he was unsure when it would be convenient for the court - which would have to constitute five judges rather than three - to hear the appeal.

The Chief Justice said the appeal should be ready to proceed on a date in February and it would be allocated two days.

The couple are appealing the 2006 landmark High Court judgment of Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, who ruled that marriage is understood under the 1937 constitution to be confined to persons of the opposite sex.

Ms Justice Dunne also rejected claims by Dr Zappone and Dr Gilligan that the refusal to permit them marry here breaches their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.

Dr Zappone, a public policy consultant and member of the Human Rights Commission, and Dr Gilligan, an academic, had brought their action against the Revenue Commissioners and the State. It ran for eight days.

Dr Zappone and Dr Gilligan have been together for almost 30 years and married in British Columbia, Canada, in 2003. They claimed the failure by the authorities here to permit them marry here or recognise their Canadian marriage as valid here breached their rights under the Irish Constitution, European Convention on Human Rights and the European Charter of Fundamental Freedoms.

Article taken from the Irish Times.