A gay couple are celebrating after becoming the first recognised civil partners in Ireland.

Glenn Cunningham and Adriano Vilar had a civil partnership in Northern Ireland last year but are now recognised as a couple in Ireland due to new laws.

They told the Irish Times that by chance, they went to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service offices last Thursday to discuss Brazilian national Mr Vilar’s residency status.

Mr Cunningham said: “At first the officials didn’t know what to do, they’d never dealt with a legally binding civil partnership involving a gay couple.

“Eventually, the officials came back and said: ‘Congratulations – you’re the first couple in Ireland to be recognised as civil partners’. We were shocked – we couldn’t believe it!”

Mr Vilar added: “My reaction was like, ‘Wow-wee, yahoo! Really?’ I’ve always felt quite insecure – only living here on a student visa. We went off and got a bottle of champagne to celebrate.”

The couple both work at Argos and the change means that Mr Vilar will be able to work full-time and find a job suited to his experience as a store manager.

Ireland’s new civil partnership laws allow gay couples who have had marriages or civil unions in 27 other countries to be recognised as civil partners.

In April, gay couples who have not had a ceremony elsewhere will be able to start having civil partnership ceremonies.