Belfast Telegraph

Holyrood backs gay marriage call

By Noel McAdam

Scottish politicians have joined forces to demand marriage equality in Northern Ireland ahead of a major rally today.

Holyrood's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Labour leader Kezia Dugdale united to demand the introduction of legislation allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples.

The Scottish intervention came a few days after a number of local celebrities, including actor Liam Neeson and Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody, along with Stephen Fry and Graham Norton, whose mother Rhoda was born here, also called for the move.

The failure to introduce the right here - the only part of the UK or Ireland where same-sex couples cannot marry - is at the heart of negotiations continuing today to restore the Stormont Executive. Reform of the Assembly's petition of concern mechanism, which requires majorities among both unionists and nationalists, could allow for local legislation to be passed.

The ongoing impasse will be addressed at today's march and demonstration in Belfast, which will be led by the city's Alliance Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister.

However, the DUP's Jim Wells, among others, has warned there would be defections from the party if it agreed to same-sex marriage.

"Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland," the former Health Minister vowed.

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