Irish Minister Katherine Zappone says success of campaign in Northern Ireland is assured

 

Katherine Zappone available for interview

 

A documentary film featuring Katherine Zappone, the Irish children’s minister, and her late wife Ann Louise Gilligan will be given a private screening in Belfast this evening as part of the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

Ms Zappone will be at the Movie House cinema tonight in Belfast when The 34th, which tells the story of the Irish marriage equality campaign, gets a private screening for hundreds of Northern Ireland marriage equality campaigners. Dr Gilligan died at the age of 71 in June after a brief illness.

The film, directed by Linda Cullen and Vanessa Gildea, follows the movement from grassroots level to the historic Yes vote on May 22, 2015. Part of the documentary focuses on the KAL case (Katherine and Ann Louise), in which the couple fought to have their Canadian marriage recognised in Ireland. It is named after the 34th amendment to the constitution which changed the marriage law.

In advance of the Belfast event, Ms Zappone said: 

“The 34th tells the story of solidarity and love behind the long road to marriage equality. It is an honest account of great challenges and moments of joy and hope. These were moments I shared with my late spouse Ann Louise and I am deeply touched by the way her pioneering role is recognised. It offers solidarity and hope for all confronted by inequality, discrimination and hate.

“I truly believe that the success of the campaign south of the border can help to inspire real change in Northern Ireland and countries which have yet to declare yes to equality. I am delighted to be in Belfast for this screening and to have the chance to meet so many campaigners for change. With such widespread public support for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, success is assured. It now seems a matter of ‘how soon’, rather than ‘if’. I hope the answer to that question will be ‘very soon’.”

Ms Zappone will take part in a post-screening discussion alongside film-maker Linda Cullen and marriage equality campaigners Grainne Healy and Denise Charlton, who helped pave the way for the historic Yes vote in May 2015.

The Belfast screening, due to take place before a capacity audience, has been organised by Love Equality, the campaign for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland, in conjunction with the Social Change Initiative and Belfast Film Festival.

Background

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland which still bans marriage for same-sex couples, despite majority support among the public and in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In November 2015 a majority of MLAs in the Assembly voted to support equal marriage, but the measure was blocked by the DUP using a Petition of Concern, a voting mechanism originally designed to protect the rights of minorities in Northern Ireland. An Ipsos MORI poll in 2016 showed 70% support for marriage equality amongst the Northern Ireland public.

 

Love Equality is the campaign for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland and is a coalition comprising the Rainbow Project, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Amnesty International, NUS-USI (National Union of Students), Here NI and Cara Friend.