Supporters of John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty refused entry to court hearing

More than 100 supporters of John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty crowded into the Four Courts Round Hall today before a mention of their High Court action challenging laws introduced by the State in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supporters of John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty refused entry to court hearing
A crowd of supporters surround John Waters (Long hair and beard) and Gemma O Doherty (holding blue book) outside the Four Cours following their High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

More than 100 supporters of John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty crowded into the Four Courts Round Hall today before a mention of their High Court action challenging laws introduced by the State in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group was not allowed to entry court for the brief hearing in line with social distancing guidelines.

An application to let, some or all of those persons into the courtroom was dismissed by Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy.

The Judge said the case was being heard in public and was being reported on by the media.

The State is to oppose the High Court challenge brought by John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty.

They claim that the laws are flawed and unconstitutional, and want them struck down.

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 action against what they claim are laws is against The Minister for Health, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Gemma O Doherty and John Waters pictured leaving the Four Courts following their High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Gemma O Doherty and John Waters pictured leaving the Four Courts following their High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

Last week the High Court directed that the journalist's application for permission to bring the challenge be heard on notice to the state parties.

The matter was listed for mention before Ms Justice Deidre Murphy yesterday (Tuesday) morning.

Gerard Meehan Bl for the State told the court it will oppose the application for leave to bring the challenge, and asked the court to adjourn the case for two weeks to prepare a sworn statement in response to what is a "quite substantial" challenge.

In the current climate counsel said while the State has been working on its response things were taking longer to get done, particularly when dealing with persons in the Department of Health.

Counsel also told the court given that part of the challenge concerns how the laws in question were enacted the Dail, the Seanad and the Ceann Comhairle would have to be added to the proceedings as notice parties.

Counsel said that as well as hearing from the notice parties, legal submissions might also be required as part of the leave application.

In light of that counsel asked that the matter be listed for mention in two weeks time.

The applicants, while not not objecting to the addition of the notice parties, expressed strong concerns about the state's application regarding the adjournment and said the leave application needs to be heard as soon as possible.

Mr Waters told the court the State parties were attempting to “procrastinate" and delay what he said is a very important matter.

Outlining the nature of the action Ms O'Doherty said what was happening regarding the lockdown was "outrageous".

She said people were being held under mass house arrest, or fear being interrogated by the Gardai if they leave their homes.

People she said should be allowed go about their business and normal life must be allowed resume.

A crowd of supporters surround John Waters and Gemma O Doherty for a pictured outside the Four Cours following their High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
A crowd of supporters surround John Waters and Gemma O Doherty for a pictured outside the Four Cours following their High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

The vast majority of people she said are unaffected by Covid 19, which she said was "no threat to life", and that the Irish people should be allowed to go outside and "build up a herd immunity."

Ms O'Doherty added that medical evidence supporting her claims will be presented to the court as part of the case.

Ms Justice Murphy told Ms O'Doherty that the court was not considering what were substantial arguments in the action, but was making directions with a view to getting the application heard.

The Judge said she accepted that the leave application raised issued that needed to be heard. The Judge said that the leave hearing should be heard in two weeks time.

The judge also adjourned the matter for a week, when it is to be mentioned before the court to see how the parties are getting on.

Earlier in the proceedings both the applicants questioned if the proceedings were being held in public.

The Judge said that not everyone could fit into a courtroom, and wondered if a larger than capacity group wished to attend a hearing should the court be moved to the "National Convention Centre."

The applicants expressed their dissatisfaction over the court's decision.

The Judge said that a Digital Audio Recording of Tuesday's proceedings should be made available to the applicants.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.