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‘But I think there should be full rights as regards adoption and other issues.Why shouldn’t we have the same rights as everyone else?It is a picture that will delight the gay community in Ireland and shock some religious conservatives; the photograph of the first gay couple in Ireland to publicly tie the knot.These exclusive pictures by the Irish Mail on Sunday show Danny Ryan and Fergal Johnston as they registered their civil union in the Bracken Court Hotel in Balbriggan.After the ceremony, Danny said he now felt complete.‘You grow up thinking that you will never be able to get married so it feels weird but wonderful that I now have,’ he said.Danny was 17 when ‘came out’ to parents who were ‘fine about it’.As he acknowledges, ‘London was a different place than Dublin’, and he never encountered prejudice socially or in a work environment.

They shared the moment with hugs all around from family and friends, as well as a glass or two of champagne, before going for their first meal as a married couple.

While gay civil partnerships are not recognised by religious organisations, the new law extends marriage-like benefits to gay couples in the areas of property, social welfare, succession rights, maintenance, pensions and tax.

Fergal is a practising Catholic while Danny is Church of England.

He spent years being ‘terrified’ of admitting he was gay to family and friends, although he now believes everyone knew his sexuality but never spoke about it.

Fergal came out seven years ago, at the age of 23, when he met Danny.

‘I declare my intention to live with you and support you and I will accept you as my civil partner in accordance with the law.’ Nervous, he fluffed his lines – prompting ripples of laughter from onlookers before Danny pledged his own love.

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