1,468 gays and lesbians in Ireland have taken advantage of the country’s new civil partnerships law, which came into force in 2011.

According to research by the Irish Examiner, gay civil partnerships make up 2.6 percent of registered relationships in the country.

448 of the 734 couples who have entered civil partnerships are gay men, 286 were lesbian.

50 percent of the unions have taken place in Dublin but every county in the country, which has a population of 4.4 million, has had at least one gay partnership.

Ireland’s civil partnership laws came into force in January 2011 with the first two ceremonies taking place in exceptional circumstances due to the participants’ ill health shortly afterwards. The provisions came into force for gays and lesbians generally in April.

Moninne Griffith, Director of Marriage Equality told the Irish Examiner: “That is wonderful. It tallies with the research we have done over recent months and shows that the days are gone when LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people felt they have to leave for London or New York to be accepted.

Earlier this month, the Deputy Prime Minister (Tanaiste) of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore, told Dublin Pride that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples the same rights to marry as opposite sex couples.

Mr Gilmore, who is the leader of the Irish Labour Party and serves as Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition Government said that politicians should no longer dictate who people fall in love with or who they decide to spend their lives with.

“I believe in gay marriage,” he said. “The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, it’s time has come.”

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has echoed the Deputy Prime Minister’s support for equal marriage, saying: “I believe individuals should be able to get on with their lives freely, where their circumstances don’t detrimentally impact on others.”

Kieran Rose, Chair of GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in Ireland said: “Civil Partnerships have been a resounding success. Almost 1500 people have entered civil partnerships in Ireland since they became available just over a year ago.

“Lesbian and gay couples are celebrating their love and commitment in front of family, friends and communities all across Ireland.

“These couples are the pioneers who are transforming the perception of lesbian and gay relationships all across the country. By their public acts of love and commitment they are laying the foundations for further progress towards civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples.”