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hotel quarantine row Mother of woman who travelled to Dubai with friend says they are 'being treated worse than animals’

Niamh Mulreany's mother Sabrina also said the women were 'being treated worse than animals’ and the whole situation had become ‘a circus’.

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Kirstie McGrath, 30 (left) and Niamh Mulreany, 25 (right) at Tallaght District Court on Saturday. Picture by Fergal Phillips

Kirstie McGrath, 30 (left) and Niamh Mulreany, 25 (right) at Tallaght District Court on Saturday. Picture by Fergal Phillips

Kirstie McGrath, 30 (left) and Niamh Mulreany, 25 (right) at Tallaght District Court on Saturday. Picture by Fergal Phillips

The mother of one of two friends who were ordered into quarantine after a trip to Dubai claimed they were both being refused access to independent Covid-19 testing.

Niamh Mulreany's mother Sabrina also said the women were 'being treated worse than animals’ and the whole situation had become ‘a circus’.

Ms Mulreany (25) and Kirstie McGrath (30) allegedly refused to enter into mandatory hotel quarantine and were subsequently arrested for breaches to the Health Act last Friday.

Ms McGrath since received a positive PCR test result which has resulted in several gardai being told to self-isolate. However it is understood that a subsequent test result has been received which is negative.

Ms Mulreany’s mother, speaking on behalf of the friends, has confirmed that both girls received a Covid-19 PCR test, after testing negative to a previous three, and an antibody exam, when they entered the women’s prison on Saturday night.

The friends are sharing a double room at the quarantine hotel where they are staying.

They had asked authorities, Department of Health, for independent PCR tests to be carried out on the girls on Monday evening.

She said a GP was to be allowed to enter the hotel at 7.30am on Tuesday. However, at 1.11am on Tuesday legal representatives were told that this had been stopped.

In correspondence from the quarantine hotel where the friends are staying, the girl’s parents were told, “access to the mandatory quarantine facility is not approved”.

The letter adds: “The HSE as the person approved by the Minister for Health to conduct RT-PCR tests with the applicable travellers in designated facilities under section 38 of the Health Act. The Minister has not designated or approved any person other than the HSE to conduct RT-PCR tests.

“There is no entitlement accruing to persons in quarantine to have RT-PCR tests conducted by anyone other than the HSE. In the circumstance the Department of Health cannot agree to the facilitation of a privately sourced PCR test.”

In response, Ms Mulreany’s mother, who is a frontline worker said: “Niamh and Kirstie are being made examples of it’s as simple as that and the question has to be asked why?

"When those girls got onto the plane in Dubai they did not have Covid-19. The girls left Ireland on the morning of March 24 and the new rules on quarantining did not come in until March 26, two days later so why is this happening?

“These two girls are not statistics and what is happening is having an awful affect on them.”

Ms Mulreany added that the friends “are being treated worse than animals - this is a complete circus.

“The girls have done nothing wrong. They didn’t break any rules and followed all guidance. Why are they being made examples of and why not those who gave vaccines to people who were not yet entitled to them?

“They checked with the airline they were travelling to Dubai with and Government authorities as to what guidelines they had to follow. They were told they were allowed to travel as long as they had negative PCR tests and medical documentation explaining why they were leaving the country. They followed all the guidelines they were told to do.

“They were kept in awful conditions in prison and left in a garda van for almost four hours in the heat prior to their court appearance on Saturday as they could not enter the court house due to Covid-19 restrictions. Both girls are suffering psychologically as we all are.”

The arrest of the two women and subsequent court action has now resulted into a constitutional challenge against laws requiring persons to enter mandatory quarantine on their arrival into Ireland from certain countries.

The pair appeared at Tallaght District Court and were granted bail but remained in custody and detained at the Dochas women’s prison as they could not access financial funds needed for bonds and sureties.

The High Court on Sunday made orders allowing mother-of-one Ms Mulreany and mother-of-two Ms McGrath to leave prison.

Mr Justice Paul Burns amended bail conditions imposed on the friends enabling them to leave prison and continue to quarantine at a designated hotel.

The judge also declined the women’s application to be allowed quarantine at their respective homes instead of the hotel so they could be re-united with their children.

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