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Lockdown 'like living in Nazi Germany', court told

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Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters outside court

Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters outside court

Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters outside court

Journalists John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty have told the High Court that laws introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic are "unprecedented" and amount to an "effective suspension" of every citizen's constitutional rights.

In judicial review proceedings against the State and the health minister, they seek to have various pieces of recently enacted legislation, which they say are unconstitutional and flawed, quashed by a judge.

The High Court has directed that their application to bring their challenge be heard in the presence of the respondents.

The State and lawyers representing the Dail, Seanad and the Ceann Comhairle say the case should be dismissed.

In their submissions, Mr Waters and Ms O'Doherty said the laws that had been introduced, and the manner in which they were enacted, are repugnant to several articles of the Constitution, including rights to travel, bodily integrity and the family.

Mr Waters said laws are keeping people in their homes and have resulted in the closure of parks and beaches.

War

He agreed with former British Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, who described the restrictions in the UK, which Mr Waters said are similar to those in Ireland, as worse than those that were imposed in the UK during World War Two.

Referring to the economic impact of the restrictions, he said he feared that the country could find itself back in the place it was in 1929 when the Wall Street Crash sent the world into an economic depression.

Mr Waters also told the court that they do not accept the accuracy of the number of deaths in the State attributable to Covid-19.

Ms O'Doherty said the laws had given powers allowing the gardai to harass people when they go out and have kept citizens under mass house arrest.

She compared the restrictions to like living "in Nazi Germany" where people were required to carry papers with them at all times.

Supporters of the two journalists remained outside barriers erected by gardai.

The hearing continues today.