Ireland is likely to enact legislation during 2008 giving same-sex couples the right to contract 'Civil Unions' giving most of the rights and obligations of marriage. The legislation is analagous to the 'Civil Partnerships' Act in the UK.
An important aspect of the legislation is that it will grant recognition as a 'Civil Union' to a civil partnership or marriage by an Irish same sex couple in countries where this is permitted (e.g. UK, Holland, Belgium or Canada); a number of Irish same sex couples have resorted to this already, but at present their foreign civil partnerships or marriages are not recognised at home.
No doubt we will hear the usual ranting from the Vatican in the run up to this legislation being passed with the usual warnings that the sky will fall in. Let's hope the Irish government has the stamina to see it through.