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High Court dismisses legal challenge over emergency laws

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Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters have lost their challenge

Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters have lost their challenge

Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters have lost their challenge

The High Court has refused permission to allow John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty to challenge the emergency laws introduced in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

In judicial review proceedings against the State and Health Minister Simon Harris, Mr Waters and Ms O'Doherty were seeking to have various pieces of recently enacted legislation quashed.

The legislation they wanted to challenge 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.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan ruled that the pair were not entitled to leave.

Ms O'Doherty tweeted that they will appeal against the ruling.

Accused

During the proceedings, Mr Waters and Ms O'Doherty questioned the accuracy of the amount of people infected by Covid-19 and the number of deaths as reported by the Department of Health.

They accused the Government of acting on "fraudulent science", adding that the lockdown laws are "unconstitutional" as Government did not have the power to legislate.

They also claimed that the new powers breach ECHR laws.

Patrick McCann, senior counsel for the State, told the court that there was "complete absence of any facts" by the applicants to show that the measures were disproportionate.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Meenan said that, while there is "no doubt" that the restrictions interfere with family life, they are not a breach of Article 41.

He added the pair's claims are not arguable and the court cannot grant them permission to have their legal challenge heard in full at the High Court.

The judge said: "Unfortunately, in making their case for leave, the applicants, who have no medical or scientific expertise, relied upon their own unsubstantiated views, gave speeches, engaged in empty rhetoric and sought to draw a historic parallel with Nazi Germany - a parallel which is both absurd and offensive.

"Unsubstantiated opinions, speeches, empty rhetoric and a bogus historical parallel are not substitute for facts.

"In my view, the applicants do not have standing to challenge the amendments to the Mental Health Act."

During proceedings, there had been a significant garda presence around the Four Courts as supporters of the pair gathered outside the building.