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Barrister who spoke at anti-mask rally issues legal proceedings against asylum seekers' group

Papers were filed in the High Court yesterday.

Una McGurk
Una McGurk
Image: YouTube

A BARRISTER WHO came to public attention after speaking at a demonstration against Covid-19 face masks last year has issued legal proceedings against an Irish advocacy group for asylum seekers.

Papers filed in the High Court show that Una McGurk, who is a member of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT), has initiated a civil case against the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and against three of its members, who she has named in the papers.

The group’s co-founders Lucky Khambule and and Donnah Vuma and a spokesperson Bulelani Mfaco are listed as co-defendants.

McGurk is representing herself in the case, and no date has been set for the hearing.

In a video posted on social media last week, McGurk announced her intention to issue defamation proceedings against unnamed individuals over posts on social media.

“As many of you may already be aware, I feel that I have been seriously defamed on social media,” she said in the 30-second clip.

“As a consequence, I have just issued High Court proceedings for defamation and I will not be commenting any further on that aspect.

“However, I will say this – open season for Una McGurk is now over.”

In a short statement on Twitter, MASI said it is not in a position to comment on proceedings at present. The group did not respond to a query from TheJournal.ie.

McGurk is one of 70 barristers listed as a member of IPAT, an independent, statutory body set up to accept or reject decisions made on applications for asylum in Ireland.

The Department of Justice confirmed this evening that she will no longer sit on the tribunal, following the expiration of her contract.

“The Department can confirm that a decision has been taken not to re-appoint the person concerned to the Tribunal, and the person concerned has been advised accordingly,” a spokesman said.

“Given the circumstances, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.”

She came to public attention last year after she addressed attendees at a protest in Dublin city centre against the wearing of Covid-19 face masks.

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The demonstration was organised by a group known as Health Freedom Ireland, which claims to be non-political. Others to address the rally included members of the Irish Freedom Party.

In another video posted last year, McGurk suggested that mask-wearing is dangerous to a person’s health and that Covid-19 is no more dangerous than flu.

“How would you feel if you were informed by an expert that the wearing of masks was completely unnecessary, irrelevant in protecting you and your loved ones, and was actually damaging to your health?” she asked.

Various claims that face masks are not safe have been debunked by TheJournal.ie numerous times since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Speaking in the wake of the rally last year Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ radio that he was “disturbed” by the protest and that comments from McGurk at the event weren’t compatible with membership of IPAT.

Minister for Children and Green Party TD Roderic O’Gorman also tweeted to say he would raise his concerns about the protest with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

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