Over 1300 same-sex couples able to convert civil partnerships to marriages

More than 1,300 same-sex couples in Northern Ireland are now able to convert their civil partnerships to marriages.

Seventeen conversions are expected to take place on Monday, when the legislation comes into effect, with a total of 32 planned for the week.

The Finance Minister has announced that the conversion fee has been waived for a year as a gesture of support.

Conor Murphy said: “I would like to congratulate those couples who are converting their partnerships today and wish them a very happy life together.”

The first couple to convert their civil partnership in Belfast was Cara McCann and her partner Amanda McGurk, who both helped lead the Love Equality campaign for same-sex marriage rights in Northern Ireland.

The couple entered a civil partnership on February 14 last year, but have officially become married by converting through a registration process at Belfast City Hall.

Ms McGurk said: "It is absolutely wonderful.

"I do not think we ever thought this day was going to come in our time.

"We have been campaigning and hoping for this day for many, many years and are delighted to be the first."

The couple described the new law as "final piece in the jigsaw of the marriage equality campaign". Credit: Pacemaker

Ms McCann said they had been part of the Love Equality Campaign for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland for many years.

"It is just surreal that this day has come and we feel so much more equal and valued today once we received our marriage certificate. "

She added: "This is the final piece in the jigsaw of the marriage equality campaign and I think Northern Ireland is definitely a different place today."