Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters bring court challenge to Covid-19 restrictions

Journalists John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty have launched a High Court action challenging laws brought in by the state arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters bring court challenge to Covid-19 restrictions
File image of John Waters

Journalists John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty have launched a High Court action challenging laws brought in by the state arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In judicial review proceedings against the State and the Minister for Health they seek to have various pieces or recently enacted legislation declared null and void by a judge of the High Court.

The legislation challenged 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, The 1947 Health Act (Affected Areas) Order.

Their proceedings are also aimed at striking down temporary restriction regulations brought due to Covid-19 under the 1947 Health Act.

The legislation relates to various measures introduced to deal with the pandemic.

Representing themselves this afternoon the journalists applied for permission to bring their challenge in an action which is against The Minister for Health, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The matter, which was heard on an ex-parte basis where only one side was present in court, was mentioned before Mr Justice Mark Sanfey.

Mr Waters told the court that the legislation was "unconstitutional", "improperly enacted," and "very flawed".

He said the challenge was brought on grounds including that the laws were brought in by a caretaker Government, by a Dail where the number of TD's present in the chamber when the vote took places was limited.

He said he was further concerned that the legislation was enacted by the outgoing rather than the incoming Senate, which he says it should have been.

File image of Gemma O'Doherty
File image of Gemma O'Doherty

The two journalists also told the court that they had great concerns about the powers that the new laws gave to the Gardai, and the effect that the laws, the lockdown and travel restrictions are having on the people of Ireland.

Concerns were also raised about the financial steps that have been put in place.

The judge, who said that the court was only concerned about the legality of the legislation challenged and not about any policy taken by government, directed that the journalists' application for permission to bring the challenge be made on notice to the State respondents.

The judge adjourned the matter for a week, when it is to be mentioned before the court.

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