Mother defends daughter jailed for refusing to enter Irish quarantine on return from Dubai

Sabrina Mulreany says daughter Niamh and friend Kirstie McGrath were ‘treated like animals’

2F4MYGB Garda perform Covid-19 stop checks outside Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. People arriving from 33 countries flagged as high risk will have to quarantine in hotels for 14 days. Mandatory quarantine will also apply to people arriving into Ireland without a negative PCR test. Picture date: Monday March 22, 2021.
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The mother of one of two Irish women ordered into hotel quarantine after returning from Dubai said they were "treated like animals" after their arrest.

Niamh Mulreany, 25, and Kirstie McGrath, 30, were arrested at Dublin Airport on Friday when they refused to go into quarantine on their return from the UAE, where they underwent cosmetic surgery.

Ireland’s strict lockdown permits essential travel only, while anyone who arrives from certain countries must go into quarantine for 12 days at a designated hotel.

The pair were arrested after saying they had run out of money and could not afford the quarantine bill.

They were sent to Mountjoy Prison but were subsequently released into hotel quarantine.

Sabrina Mulreany, mother of Niamh, said the pair had been “treated worse than animals” and the situation had become a circus.

“Niamh and Kirstie are being made examples of, it’s as simple as that, and the question has to be asked, why?” she said.

"When those girls got on to 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 effect on them.”

She said the fiasco had taken a psychological toll on the women as she took aim at their treatment by police.

“They were kept in awful conditions in prison and left in a garda [police] van for almost four hours in the heat,” she said.

The pair have vowed to push ahead with a constitutional challenge to Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine even though they will be released long before a hearing date.

It is understood the pair are pursuing legal action because they do not want to have a potential criminal conviction as a result of an alleged breach of pandemic legislation.

At a previous court appearance, Mr Justice Paul Burns said the Covid-19 pandemic was a grave threat to the Irish public and quarantine measures were in place to ensure people’s safety.

The women were barred from boarding a flight at Dubai International Airport on March 31 after revealing they did not have the €1,875 ($2,227) needed to pay for quarantine in Dublin.

They spent two days in Dubai airport and the nearby area before Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs granted their request to return.

In Sunday’s high court hearing, Counsel John Fitzgerald, who is acting for the women, said their detention was unlawful. He is seeking an inquiry to obtain their release.

He said a bail hearing in the district court imposed “draconian and disproportionate” conditions on the women.