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High Court challenge over Covid-19 lockdown laws adjourned

Dozens of supporters gathered outside the court and called for an end to the lockdown measures.

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Gemma O’Doherty (centre) and John Waters (right) speak to the media in Dublin ahead of their High Court action (PA)

Gemma O’Doherty (centre) and John Waters (right) speak to the media in Dublin ahead of their High Court action (PA)

Gemma O’Doherty (centre) and John Waters (right) speak to the media in Dublin ahead of their High Court action (PA)

A High Court challenge brought against laws introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been adjourned until Wednesday.

An application by John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty for permission to bring the challenge came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday.

In judicial review proceedings against the State and Health Minister Simon Harris, the pair are seeking to have various pieces of recently enacted legislation quashed by a judge of the High Court.

The legislation they are challenging includes the 2020 Health Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, the 2020 Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act Covid-19 Act and the 1947 Health Act (Affected Areas) Order.

On Tuesday morning there was a Garda presence around the Four Courts complex.

We will be presenting medical evidence that the denial of vitamin D that comes from sunshine reduces respiratory illness that the State is terrified ofGemma O'Doherty

Mr Waters said people are “essentially under house arrest”  and that the case is of huge public interest as his rights and the rights of everyone in the State have been restricted.

He said the laws are disproportionate and there is no proof the measures are helping to reduce the number of coronavirus cases.

Citing the example of Sweden where the government has not imposed a similar level of lockdown, he said:

“There is no conclusive evidence we have come across that would indicate a lockdown is having the effect that is being claimed for by the Government here.”

Ms O’Doherty said statistics from around the world have called into question the State’s response to the pandemic.

“I want to say that lockdown is based on absolutely no science – never before have the healthy people in a population been put in quarantine.”

She said the restrictions have meant people are not getting outside for long enough to maintain their health.

“We will be presenting medical evidence that the denial of vitamin D that comes from sunshine reduces respiratory illness that the State is terrified of.”

Ms O’Doherty claimed she has been harassed by gardai over complying with the restrictions.

“I had to attend the Garda station in Bridewell due to ongoing garda harassment. It is absolutely outrageous. I was stopped at a checkpoint and I told the Garda I was involved in litigation and it gives me the freedom to move about.

“He told me to present my insurance certificate – this harassing of citizens is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Ms O’Doherty also claimed the situation in Ireland is “reminiscent of Nazi Germany when people had to carry papers with them”.

Mr Waters said in months to come, “serious questions” would be raised about how far the restrictions went and why it was left to two lay people to challenge the State about them.

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The pair speak to the media in Dublin ahead of their High Court action (Aine McMahon/PA)

The pair speak to the media in Dublin ahead of their High Court action (Aine McMahon/PA)

PA

The pair speak to the media in Dublin ahead of their High Court action (Aine McMahon/PA)

Between 80 and 100 of their supporters gathered on the road near the main entrance to the Four Courts before and after the hearing.

Some held placards protesting about the Government restrictions and calling for an end to the lockdown, while others waved tricolours.

Road barriers were put up after more than 100 supporters tried to get into the courtroom during a previous session three weeks ago.

That hearing prompted fears over social distancing as the court can only accommodate a small number of people.

Tuesday’s session was located in another courtroom which can only be accessed from Chancery Place, where supporters were prevented from entering.

Before going inside court, Ms O’Doherty and Mr Waters addressed the group.

She said: “The police force is no longer defending the rights and safety of the Irish people. It is going to result in such an appalling vista. People are going to be fully within their rights to take legal claims for being falsely imprisoned by gardai.

“Gardai have been detaining people, they have been harassing people close to their homes. It is all going to come back and bite them.”

Ms O’Doherty, holding a copy of the Irish constitution, said: “Under this article, Irish people have a right to enter their courtrooms.

“Justice must be done in public. If it is not done in public it is not done.”

PA