Ireland’s former president Mary McAleese says she supports marriage rights for same-sex couples.

According to the BBC, in an interview with RTE, Mrs McAleese, who is one of Ireland’s most prominent Catholics, said that she had “no problem with it at all”.

She said gay people are: “as entitled to live their lives on their own terms, as I do as a heterosexual”, and added. “I’m just thrilled anyone wants to get married”.

Mrs McAleese said many gay people had endured “interminable loneliness” and praised campaigners who had emphasised that gay people were as entitled as heterosexuals to live freely.

Last month, the former president criticised the Catholic Church for its “isolated” views on homosexuality and expressed her concern at the high number of suicides among gay men in the country.

Mrs McAleese told the Irish Independent that life remained difficult for gay youngsters because of the amount of homophobic teaching in the country’s Catholic schools.

“They will have heard words like disorder they may have heard the word evil used in relation to homosexual practice,” Mrs McAleese said.

Since she left the presidency Mrs McAleese has been mostly in Rome studying canon law.

Ireland’s coalition government proposes holding a special constitutional convention to amend the constitution, including plans to introduce marriage rights for same-sex couples.