Dubai Two are holed up in the same room… as Simon Coveney denies aiding return
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has denied that he was involved in helping the ‘Dubai Two’ to fly home.
The two women who were arrested after flying to Dubai to get breast-enhancement surgery are now sharing the same room in hotel quarantine.
Dubliners Niamh Mulreany, 25, and Kirstie McGrath, 30, will be spending up to the next fortnight together at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Santry, Dublin, after refusing to comply with Covid regulations.
When they attempted to return to Ireland from Dubai on March 31 last, they were informed that they must pay €1,850 to quarantine at a designated hotel upon arrival in Dublin. They were not able to pay that sum, and were told in Dubai that if they did not pre-book the hotel and pay, they would be denied passage to Dublin.
They were not allowed board flights to Dublin for two days.
Following presentations from a public representative and the Irish consulate in the UAE, they agreed to make deferred payments.© Provided by Extra.ie Kirstie McGrath, 30, at Tallaght District Court on Saturday afternoon. Pic: Michael Chester
One of the women’s relatives also suggested that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Coveney, signed a ‘waiver’ to allow the women to fly home after being contacted by a Dublin city councillor.
However, a spokesperson for Minister Coveney has denied that he was directly involved in helping the women return to Dublin. The spokesman told the Irish Daily Mail: ‘The minister had no involvement in the case whatsoever.’
The waivers, which Ms Mulreany’s father claims she obtained, allow Irish citizens to book mandatory hotel quarantine without paying. This can be done by contacting an Irish embassy in the country of departure.© Provided by Extra.ie Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has denied that he was involved in helping the ‘Dubai Two’ to fly home. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson confirmed there is an ‘agreed procedure for deferrals of prepayment for Irish citizens and residents abroad who need to travel for essential reasons and cannot pay for mandatory hotel quarantine in advance’. They added: ‘This procedure can only be considered in exceptional/hardship circumstances and can facilitate travel to Ireland without payment of fees in advance.’
To date, 21 deferrals of payment certificates have been issued to people entering hotel quarantine, the spokesperson also said.
Formal appeals by the women’s solicitor are due be lodged in a bid to allow them to return to their children on humanitarian grounds. However, just two successful appeals have been made to date.
The pair were arrested at Dublin Airport on Friday. Under current travel restrictions, those travelling outside the country must quarantine for up to 14 days, and failure to do so can result in a €2,000 fine and a one-month jail sentence.
Ms Mulreany, a mother-of-one from Dublin 2, and mother-of-two Ms McGrath, of Rialto, Dublin 7 were charged with breaches of COVID-19 regulations under the Health Act. Following their arrest, the two appeared before Tallaght District Court, but were unable to satisfy the financial conditions imposed on them, resulting in their incarceration at Mountjoy women’s prison.
However, on Sunday, Judge Paul Burns amended the bail conditions imposed, which allowed them to leave custody and said they must quarantine at the hotel.© Provided by Extra.ie A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has denied that he was directly involved in helping the ‘Dubai Two’ return to Dublin. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
A source told the Mail that the women are ‘far from happy’ as their request to quarantine at home was refused.
They are now in the company of one another in the north Dublin hotel, as their children are being looked after by family members.
However, they may be able to leave early provided they test negative for COVID-19 after ten days.© Provided by Extra.ie Kirstie McGrath. Pic: Collins Courts
Ms Mulreany and Ms McGrath are understood to be in regular contact with their solicitor from their room and are being kept up to date with any new developments regarding their situation.
A number of people at the Crowne Plaza hotel had their appeals rejected in recent days when requesting to attend the funerals of family members.
Following an application by lawyers for the two women on Sunday, Judge Burns directed an inquiry, under Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution, into the legality of their detention of at Mountjoy.© Provided by Extra.ie A number of people at the Crowne Plaza hotel had their appeals rejected in recent days when requesting to attend the funerals of family members. Pic: Donall Farmer/Getty Images
That action has now been converted into a constitutional challenge against laws requiring persons to enter mandatory quarantine on their arrival from certain countries.
The court heard that they had travelled to the UAE, where they were due to receive but ultimately did not undergo cosmetic procedures. The trips and procedures were birthday presents funded by the women’s respective families and friends, the court heard.
It was also heard that information about the mandatory quarantine were put in the public domain the day before the women travelled to Dubai on March 24 last.
The pair were granted bail by Tallaght District Court on Saturday, on terms including that they remain in the hotel, and that they provide their own bond of €800, of which €500 must be lodged.© Provided by Extra.ie A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson confirmed there is an ‘agreed procedure for deferrals of prepayment for Irish citizens and residents abroad who need to travel for essential reasons and cannot pay for mandatory hotel quarantine in advance’. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins
John Fitzgerald SC, counsel for the two women, said the pair, who have no previous convictions, had tested negative for COVID-19 following three recent tests.
Counsel said Ms McGrath is the mother of children aged ten and eight, and is the recipient of lone parent’s allowance.
Ms Mulreany, who previously had breast enhancement surgery, travelled to Dubai with the intention of undergoing a corrective procedure, the court heard.
Counsel said the women had believed that their children could stay with them in the hotel. However, when they returned to Ireland, they were told they would have to pay the fee and that their children could not stay with them, it was heard. The matter will return before the court later this month.