Humanist Leeds United and Republic of Ireland midfielder, Eunan O’Kane, originally from Feeny, will marry fiancée Laura Lacole this Thursday in what will be the first legal humanist ceremony in the North and the first in the United Kingdom outside Scotland.
Mr. O’Kane and Ms. Lacole, a model and public speaker, have been granted legal authority by the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland to have their Humanists UK-accredited humanist celebrant authorised to conduct a legal marriage ceremony.
The decision follows a hearing at the court on Monday on an appeal by Northern Ireland’s Attorney General, General Register Office, and Department of Finance, against the landmark High Court ruling on June 9, which gave legal recognition to humanist marriages.
It gives the former Everton, Coleraine, Torquay and Bournemouth player the all clear to make history later this week.
Ms. Lacole commented: “Eunan and I are relieved to now have legal recognition for our humanist ceremony on Thursday.
“All we’ve been asking for is to be able to get married in a form that reflects our deepest-held beliefs and values. Knowing that this can now happen is an amazing feeling. I’m so happy that we’ve taken such an important step forward.”
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, said: “We’re over the moon that Laura and Eunan will now be able to have the legal humanist ceremony that they want.
“The determination with which they took this case forward has been incredible to witness, and the fact that Northern Ireland will now have its first legal humanist ceremony is of historic significance. We very much look forward to celebrating their marriage with them in just a couple of days’ time.”
The wider question as to the future recognition of humanist marriages in Northern Ireland has been stayed until a further Court of Appeal hearing in September.