A mother in Northern Ireland whose daughter suffers from underlying health problems and is at greater risk from coronavirus will start an emergency legal challenge on Monday against the government’s decision to keep schools open, her lawyers said.
The UK has taken a different approach from EU countries such as Ireland, which shares an open border with Northern Ireland, with Boris Johnson saying it was premature to take measures like closing schools and banning mass gatherings.
That meant that schools were open in Northern Ireland on Monday but closed just across the 300 miles land frontier in the Irish Republic.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced last Friday that all schools and universities were to close and also asked all pubs to shut their doors on Sunday.
Late on Sunday, the mother, whose child attends a primary school in the border county of Armagh, gave notice to the region’s education authorities and its ministers for health and eduction of her intention to apply for an emergency judicial review.
“It is clear that the respective public bodies have each failed in their respective obligations to our client, and indeed all children, by continuing to require their attendance at school in circumstances in which they would be at an increased risk of contracting the condition,” lawyer Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law said in a statement.
“There is no time for any further delay. The necessary policies and decisions all need to be taken in a manner that recognises the real and immediate risk.”
The differing policies in both jurisdictions have caused a split in Northern Ireland’s power sharing government, with Sinn Fein calling for schools to be closed and the Democratic Unionist Party backing the British government’s public health advice.