Man who took court action over quarantine released on appeal

Case struck out after Colm Bates allowed to leave hotel to visit ‘critically ill’ father

Colm Bates sought a High Court inquiry, under article 40 of the Constitution, in a bid to avoid having to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine as his 91-year-old father was ‘critically ill’ in hospital in Tipperary. File photograph: Frank Miller

Colm Bates sought a High Court inquiry, under article 40 of the Constitution, in a bid to avoid having to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine as his 91-year-old father was ‘critically ill’ in hospital in Tipperary. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

The High Court has struck out proceedings taken by an Irish man who sought to be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine, as the man was released on Saturday morning following a review by an appeals officer.

Colm Bates sought a High Court inquiry, under article 40 of the Constitution, in a bid to avoid having to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine as his 91-year-old father was “critically ill” in hospital in Co Tipperary and was “not expected to recover”.

Mr Bates is an Irish citizen who has lived in New York since 1996. His mother died last year and he was unable to travel due to the pandemic. Not being present for his mother’s funeral was something he “deeply, profoundly regrets” and “heightened his wish to be present for his father’s last hours and funeral,” his counsel said.

Mr Bates provided a negative test result and had received his first dose of the vaccine on April 27th.

Micheál P O Higgins SC was seeking an inquiry into the legality and constitutionality of his client’s detention and said the quarantine regime under the Health Act should permit an exception on urgent humanitarian grounds.

There is currently no exemption from hotel quarantine under humanitarian grounds when entering the State from a country on the quarantine list. However, urgent humanitarian grounds can be relied upon when seeking a review of a case.

Upon arrival into the country on Saturday morning, Mr Bates was sent to Croke Park Hotel to quarantine and was given an appeals officer to review his situation. Requests for review are guaranteed by law to be provided within a 24-hour period.

A letter from the Chief State Solicitor’s office said the Minister for Health assured an application by Mr Bates would be processed “as quickly as possible”, the court heard. The letter said it was the Department of Health’s experience that appeals have been “turned around in short time frames, with many averaging three hours”.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore adjourned the hearing until the afternoon to see whether Mr Bates’ application for review would be processed by then.

Mr Bates was then released from hotel quarantine around noon on humanitarian grounds following the appeals process, the court heard.

Counsel for Mr Bates said the change in circumstances rendered it unnecessary to go forward with the proceedings and the matter was struck out.