Declan Ganley takes legal action claiming Level 5 prevents him going to Mass

Declan Ganley Takes Legal Action Claiming Level 5 Prevents Him Going To Mass Declan Ganley Takes Legal Action Claiming Level 5 Prevents Him Going To Mass
Businessman Declan Ganley claims the Government restrictions breach his constitutional right to religious freedom. Photo: PA Images
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Ann O'Loughlin

Businessman Declan Ganley has gone to court because he claims the Level 5 Covid 19 restrictions prevent him going to Mass.

He claims the Government introduced restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the Covid 19 virus breach his constitutional right to religious freedom.

The Co Galway based businessman, who is a practising Roman Catholic claims that as a result of the Level 5 restrictions, he cannot leave his home and attend Mass.

He says the measures, which were introduced last month and may expire on December 1st next, do allow certain religious activities to take place, including weddings and funerals.

However, he contends the restrictions do not allow him or any other person who wishes to attend Mass or a similar religious service, which he claims is a right protected under the Irish Constitution.

Constitutional right


This, he claims, is a breach of his constitutional rights to practise his religion. Arising out of that he has launched judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Health. Ireland and the Attorney General are notice parties to his proceedings.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan Friday who said the Government measures may expire on December 1st, which may render Mr Ganley's action moot, or pointless.

The Judge added it was a complex case and there would be no likelihood if the State respondents choose to challenge the action of it being heard by the end of the month.

Mr Ganley’s counsel Neil Steen SC told the court the issue was extremely important to Mr Ganley and was urgent. It was accepted that the vast majority of religious services, including Catholic masses, have been cancelled by church leaders due to the pandemic.

The regulations, Counsel said did not appear to prevent services like masses but Catholic priests cannot leave their homes to perform a mass nor can persons like Mr Ganley attend such services.


Counsel said while it was accepted that the restrictions challenged might well be lifted by December 1st there was a concern that the restrictions could be re-imposed by the Government. The case ultimately raised a net point and was very different to other challenges brought against Government measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Steen added.

In his action Mr Ganley seeks various orders and declarations from the court.

These include an order that certain temporary regulations introduced as part of the Government's efforts to deal with the pandemic, Regulation 5(1) and (3) of the 1947 Health Act, are quashed.

He also seeks declarations from the court that the regulations challenged are incompatible with various articles, of the Constitution including where the State acknowledges the right of persons to freely practise their religion.

In the alternative, he also seeks a declaration that the regulations challenged do not prevent him from leaving his residence for the purpose of practising his religion, including participation in public worship.

Mr Justice Meenan who directed that the application for permission to bring the challenge be heard on notice to the State, adjourned the matter to December 8th when circumstances can be reassessed.


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