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Solicitors acting for the two couples tweeted immediately after the ruling that it was "disappointing" but that their clients would appeal.

O’Hara spent over 18 months reaching a verdict on the legal challenges to the lack of same-sex marriage rights in Northern Ireland.

Ciaran Moynagh, the solicitor representing the Petition X couple, told Buzz Feed News that he would challenge the ruling in the court of appeal.

If successful there, it would enable his firm to initiate a successive legal challenge that would prise open full same-sex marriage rights in the province.

“It’s certainly been difficult.”There are now several paths ahead before full same-sex marriage rights could be won.

This was because the Democratic Unionist Party invoked what is known as a “petition of concern”, in which the bar is raised for passing a motion from more than 50% of the assembly member votes to 60%, including at least 40% of both unionist and nationalist politicians.While politicians argued and stalemate prevailed, therefore, others sought legal solutions.In 2015, the Rainbow Project approached a gay couple about bringing a case against the fact their marriage was not recognised in Northern Ireland despite being enacted in another part of the UK.He also dismissed a second case from two further gay couples who sought a judicial review into the Northern Ireland Assembly’s failure to introduce same-sex marriage, by arguing that it was a contravention of human rights not to allow same-sex couples to marry.Of the first case, O'Hara ruled: “It is not at all difficult to understand how gay men and lesbians who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage.

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