Ireland’s cabinet has formally agreed to hold a referendum on equal marriage in 2015.

The issue of gay couples adopting children will be dealt with before then, so that the referendum can be solely on marriage equality.

It’s understood that referendums on separate constitutional matters will be put to the Irish people on the same day in 2015, though no exact date has been chosen.

Ahead of Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Eamon Gilmore, told reporters: “It is important that we win this referendum”.

Mr Gilmore had previously said a public vote could take place in late 2014 or early 2015.

In April, Ireland’s Constitutional Convention recommended that Ireland’s constitution be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry and have the same legal rights as the rest of the population.

Speaking before the cabinet meeting, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, said the Constitutional Convention had recommended that there should be a referendum and that was the “view of a majority in cabinet”.

Mr Howlin said: “The Irish people in opinion polls had indicated their support for this issue and should be given the opportunity when practicable to express their views.”

Civil partnerships became legal in the country in February 2011.

Currently the Labour Party, the Green Party, the Socialist Party, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Young Fine Gael all support same-sex marriage.

Earlier this year a poll commissioned by Marriage Equality Ireland showed that the percentage of people in support of equal marriage had risen by 12%, since 2008, and in 2012 was 75%.