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O'Doherty and Waters vow to appeal High Court dismissal of their Covid law challenge



Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters despute the costs. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters despute the costs. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters despute the costs. Photo: Steve Humphreys

John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty will try to appeal the High Court's refusal to grant them permission to challenge laws introduced by the State due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The High Court yesterday was told they planned to appeal Mr Justice Charles Meenan's decision. Their intention was revealed during a hearing on who should pay the legal costs of their action against the State and the Health Minister, and where the Dáil, the Seanad and the Ceann Comhairle were notice parties.

When making submissions to the court on the issues of costs, Ms O'Doherty and Mr Waters said they would be appealing the court's refusal to grant them leave to the Court of Appeal. They argued the court should not order them to pay the legal costs for the State or the notice parties on grounds including that their action was brought in the public interest.

Patrick McCann SC, appearing with Gerard Meehan BL, for the State, said the applicants should pay their legal costs, and rejected that proceedings were brought in the public interest.

Counsel added the regulations challenged had been brought in to "protect life and to protect public health.

"The object of the action was contrary to that".

There were no exceptional circumstances raised by the applicants that would allow the court to deviate from the normal rule that the losing party should pay the costs of the proceedings.

Francis Kieran BL, for the notice parties, argued his clients were also entitled to have their legal costs paid for by the applicants.

Counsel added the applicants had "fallen at the first hurdle and would not have won the race".

Mr Kieran said his side's involvement was necessary given the nature of the proceedings.

Mr Waters, urging the court not to make a costs order against him or Ms O'Doherty, said the case had not been taken over what he said was "a personal grievance".

The action had been taken in the public interest given what he called the draconian, unconstitutional and unprecedented nature of the laws challenged.

He told the court the consequences of the lockdown, which he said would be seen in the coming weeks and months, would result in the "destruction of our society".

In her submissions, Ms O'Doherty said she had been vindicated in many of the arguments she had made to the court about the laws challenged, and said gardaí had recently said some of the lockdown laws were unenforceable.

The judge said he would issue a written ruling on the subject of costs in the coming days.

Irish Independent