Two mothers must move forward with a constitutional challenge to Ireland’s compulsory quarantine regime, even if they will be released long before the case can be decided.
under a schedule set by the High Court, it is 20 April at the earliest before a date can be set for the hearing of the action by Niamh Mulreany (25) and Kirstie McGrath (30).
By that stage they had completed the quarantine of a 12-day hotel they allegedly sought to avoid after returning from a trip to Dubai.
An informed source said the two friends will persist with the legal challenge because they did not want to have potential criminal convictions.
Both were accused of violating the Health Act after allegedly refusing to go to a quarantine hotel after arriving at Dublin Airport on Friday. They denied the allegations.
Both women were in Dubai for breast enhancement surgery but did not proceed with the procedures.
They claimed that they were given the trip and that when they left for Dubai they were unaware of the requirement to quarantine upon their return and could not afford to pay for it.
Ms Mulreany’s parents Eddie Freeman and Sabrina Mulreany claimed the two women were “being treated worse than animals” and that the issue had turned into a “complete circle”.
The affair took another turn yesterday when it emerged that Ms McGrath returned a false positive for Covid-19 while being held at the Dochas Center women’s prison in Montjoy over the weekend.
Further tests carried out by the HSE on Sunday evening – after the High Court ordered his release from prison and transfer to a quarantine hotel – gave negative results.
Ms Mulreany, of Scarlett Row in Dublin, and Ms McGrath, of Rialto in Dublin, have already had three negative PCR tests and an antibody test.
One reason for the constitutional challenge is expected to focus on the proportionality that requires them to quarantine in circumstances where they have already turned negative several times.
Another potential reason being examined by their legal team is that the legislation has created a rare “absolute liability offense”, for which no defense is available. Another potential reason is whether it is legal for an appeals officer to restrict their freedom.
The couple was released on bail in Tallaght District Court on Saturday but remained in custody and detained at the Dochas Center because they did not have the funds to pay for independent bonds and guarantees.
On Sunday the High Court ordered them to be allowed to leave the jail, but ordered them to continue quarantine at a designated hotel.
Ms Mulreany’s parents confirmed that both women gave negative results for Sunday evening’s tests.
Her mother Sabrina, a front-line worker, said: “Niamh and Kirstie are becoming examples of. It’s as simple as that and the question has to be asked, why?
“When those girls got on the plane in Dubai they didn’t have a Covid-19.
“The girls left Ireland on the morning of March 24 and the new quarantine rules did not come in on March 26, two days later, so why is this happening? These two girls are not statistics and what is happening is having a horrible effect on them. “
She claimed the two women were “treated worse than animals”.
“They were held in appalling conditions in prison and left in a Garda van for almost four hours in the heat before their court appearance on Saturday because they could not enter the Court due to restrictions on Covid-19, “she said.
“Both girls are suffering psychologically, as are all of us.”