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Woman seeking to exit hotel quarantine may leave tonight as two further actions launched

The woman travelled to support her father, who is due to undergo major cancer surgery.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Updated Apr 13th 2021, 6:32 PM

TWO FURTHER CHALLENGES have been brought on behalf of persons who are undergoing mandatory quarantining at Dublin hotels.

In the first of the actions that came before the court today, Justice Brian O’Moore heard that should Emma Kelly’s covid test, which taken on Tuesday morning is negative, then she will be allowed leave the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel in Dublin.

Kelly has been in quarantine since she came home from Dubai, to assist her family as her father undergoes surgery for cancer, on 3 April.

The outcome of Kelly’s test is due to be known sometime around 8pm tonight the court heard.

The judge, who said that there is no guarantee as to the outcome of the test, has directed an inquiry under Article 40.4.2 into Kelly’s detention.

Kelly’s action is due back before the court tomorrow morning.

In addition, the judge also adjourned to Wednesday morning applications for similar inquiries brought on behalf of two other women currently quarantining at designated hotels.

Proceedings have been brought on behalf of Ballyfermot woman Philomena Meredith, who has been in quarantine since 10 April last after returning from Dubai where she had been visiting an ill relative.

Represented by Conor Power SC, the court heard that healthcare worker Meredith is fully vaccinated and has twice tested negative for Covid-19 in recent days.

She requires medicines to treat a number of health conditions she has, and has sought to have her quarantine reviewed.

The second application has been brought by South African native and Irish resident Charlene Heyns, who returned to Ireland from South Africa on 9 April last.

Power for Heyns, a healthcare worker based in Letterkenny Co Donegal said she had been in South Africa undergoing some urgent medical treatment.

Counsel said that she has a cardiac condition, and is distressed and concerned at having to quarantine in the hotel room by herself given her medical history.

Counsel said that she has got her first shot of a two-dose vaccine and has twice tested negative for Covid19 in recent days.

Power said while they are separate actions it is both their cases that they are being detained, and that their detention is unlawful.

Counsel said that the grounds for bringing the challenges include that the women’s constitutional rights have been breached, that there is confusion over who is actually detaining the women.

There were also flaws in the system put in to individually review the cases of those subject to the mandatory quarantine that also rendered their detention unlawful, counsel added.

Their applications are all against hotel operators Tifco Ltd and Tifco Management Services (Ireland) Ltd, and the Minister for Health.

Both those applications came before the court on an ex-parte basis.

The Judge who adjourned the cases so the applications for inquiries can be heard in the presence of lawyers for the state, made a general observation about the financial implications for those taking such challenges.

The judge said that as a general observation, there was no guarantee that each and every application seeking an inquiry would be awarded their legal costs.

There was he said, “no open goal to shoot into” and while some other applicants had been successful in their actions, others may not be and could be exposed to significant legal costs.

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Kelly’s application, which was first before Justice O’Moore, on Monday night, for an inquiry also came before the court on Tuesday afternoon.

Micheál P. O Higgins SC, for Kelly, urged the court to formally open an inquiry into her detention. His client had hoped to be allowed to leave quarantine after ten days, upon the receipt of a negative Covid-19 test.

However, concerns about getting that test resulted in her seeking an inquiry into her detention, which it is argued breaches her constitutional rights. She further argues that give she is vaccinated and has tested negative for covid19 it is disproportionate to keep her in quarantine.

In reply John Gallagher BL for the State aid that the Minister was aware of Kelly’s personal circumstances and was sympathetic, but had argued that the inquiry was unnecessary.

The Minister had also directed that the analysis of Kelly’s most recent test sample be expedited, counsel said.

It was not expected to have a result until 8pm today, counsel added.

Counsel said that while Kelly has sought an inquiry, it could very well be the case that she could be released before any legal hearing into the legality of her detention is determined.

Justice O’Moore, who noted that the state accepts that Kelly has been subject to a form of detention, said today he was prepared to order the inquiry and adjourned the matter to Wednesday morning.

There was no guarantee that her result would be negative, the judge said, adding that issues had been raised in the action that needed to be heard by the court.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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