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Lockdown challenge 'doomed', to failure, judge told

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A challenge to laws introduced by the State due to the Covid-19 pandemic is doomed to failure, the High Court heard.

The challenge by John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty was described as "a full frontal attack" on articles of the Constitution concerning the separation of powers.

In judicial review proceedings against the State and the Minister for Health, they seek the quashing of various pieces of recently enacted legislation which they say are unconstitutional and flawed.

They also want the court to make a declaration that the legislation challenged is unconstitutional.

Lawyers for State respondents, as well as lawyers for the Dáil, Seanad and the Ceann Comhairle, who are notice parties, oppose the action.

That preliminary application came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who, following the conclusion of submissions yesterday, reserved his decision.

Priority

The judge, who did not say when the court would be able to deliver its decision, said he would give the matter his "complete priority".

In line with what has become the normal practice during the pandemic, the judgment will be delivered electronically.

On the second day of the hearing, Patrick McCann SC, for the State, told the court the application was "doomed" on several grounds.

It was procedurally flawed and should have been brought by way of plenary hearing which would involve the hearing of oral evidence, and not by way of judicial review, counsel said.

There was a failure to put expert evidence supporting their challenge before the court, counsel argued.

Francis Kieran BL, for the Oireachtas notice parties, said the challenge was "a full frontal attack" on articles of the Constitution and the separation of powers.

Mr Waters argued the laws were so draconian they amounted to an exceptional circumstance which would allow the court interfere with a decision of the legislature.

Ms O'Doherty described the situation as like living under "martial law" and the actions of the Government as something "like a coup".

The judge asked her to cease making "speeches" that were not assisting the court in the decision it had to make.

Irish Independent