An estimated twenty thousand people took part in the March For Equal Civil Marriage today in Belfast, calling on the next NI Executive to implement marriage equality as a matter of urgency.

Actress Bronagh Waugh, star of BBC’s The Fall, hosted the rally as it marched from Writer’s Square to Belfast City Hall where couples took to the stage and spoke of their desire to be treated equally under the law.

Speakers included John O’Doherty of the Rainbow Project, couples Shane Sweeney & Eoin Griffin, Gemma & Stacey Fitzner-Hutton and Geraldine Telford & Clare Hackett as well as chair of Belfast Pride, Sean O’Neill, parent of a gay son, Dermott Rafferty and Sasha Hornby and Maya Ballentine of Hazelwood & Shimna colleges respectively.

Also joining the march was Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Nuala McCallister, Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International NI and local drag performer, Marcus Hunter-Neill (Lady Portia Di’Monte).

Clare Moore of ICTU closed the rally with a call on the Government to legalise equal marriage and bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the United Kingdom and called on political parties involved in talks to form a Government to reform the long abused Petition of Concern mechanism that has been deployed to block marriage equality here.

Organisers from Trade Unions in the Republic of Ireland also joined the march as well as representation from local political parties, local trade unions, LGB&T organisations, faith groups and civic organisations.

Northern Ireland is now the only place in the United Kingdom and Ireland without full marriage equality for same-sex couples. The marchers joined in celebration at the passing of an equal marriage law in Germany only a few days previous whilst urging local politicians to ensure that Northern Ireland would be next in line.