Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Eamon Gilmore, has promised a referendum on same-sex marriage will be held before the next general election.

Mr Gilmore confirmed the referendum at a Labour Youth Conference in Limerick over the weekend.

Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) welcomed the remarks.

GLEN chair, Kieran Rose said: “We strongly welcome the commitment by the Tánaiste to hold a referendum in the lifetime of this government.

“We believe that the people of Ireland will continue their warm acceptance of lesbian and gay couples and families and that a yes vote can be carried in a referendum that would provide access to civil marriage.”

In April, the Constitutional Convention voted to ask the Irish Government to legislate for same-sex marriage. The government has until the end of the month to decide to accept that proposal and set a date for the referendum.

Last November, Mr Gilmore said that the “time has come” for Ireland to introduce marriage rights for gay couples. “I don’t believe we should postpone what is a human right,” he told RTE radio.

Civil partnerships became legal in the country in February 2011.