The High Court has dismissed John Waters' and Gemma O'Doherty's legal challenge against laws introduced by the State due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two former journalists claimed various pieces of the recently enacted legislation were unconstitutional and flawed and wanted them to be quashed.

They said the laws amounted to an "unprecedented" suspension of constitutional rights.

However, Mr Justice Charles Meenan dismissed their case and refused them permission to bring the judicial review proceedings.

He said the applicants had not put forward facts or expert opinion to support their case. And he said unsubstantiated opinions, speeches, rhetoric and a bogus, absurd and offensive historical parallel with Nazi Germany, were not substitutes for facts.

In a judgment delivered electronically, the judge ruled that their claims were not arguable and the court could not grant them permission to have the challenge determined at a full hearing.


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Mr Justice Meenan said that legislation enacted to address the issues arising from the pandemic undoubtedly restricted people's constitutional rights. But he said the rights involved were not absolute.

To show that they had an arguable case, the applicants should have sworn affidavits, putting forward facts, to make their case that the restrictions were disproportionate. He said this did not happen.

Mr Justice Meenan also said in their statement required to ground their application, the applicants set out the events concerning the effects of Covid-19.

This statement ended on 16 March, when there were 268 confirmed cases and two deaths.

He said the applicants did not bring the sequence of events up to date and as of 6 May, there were 22,248 people infected and 1,375 deaths.

He said Mr Waters and Ms O'Doherty, who had no medical or scientific qualifications, maintained the numbers were overstated and the Minister for Health was following fraudulent science.

There was no factual basis or any supporting expert opinion put forward to support this.

The judge said the applicants gave unsubstantiated options, speeches, engaged in empty rhetoric and sought to draw an "absurd and offensive" historical parallel with Nazi Germany.

Unsubstantiated opinions, speeches, rhetoric and bogus historical parallel were not substitutes for facts, he said.

The judge said the making of regulations by the Minister for Health pursuant to the legislation was constitutionally permissible, and said the applicants were not entitled to rely on the European Convention on Human Rights or the Charter of Fundamental Rights or other EU law.

He said they had no arguable case against the Oireachtas. And the case they sought to make against the Dáil, Seanad and Ceann Comhairle was unstateable.

During the hearing of their case, Mr Waters and Ms O'Doherty, who represented themselves, indicated they would appeal if they were not granted permission for the challenge.

The judge invited the parties to make submissions as to the orders that should follow his ruling, in particular the matter of costs.

In a tweet, Ms O'Doherty said "as anticipated" their application had been rejected. She said they would lodge their appeal shortly and their fight for justice continued "stronger than ever".