The Government has been “tricking” citizens into compliance through “calculated ambiguity between legal obligations and public health advice, a leading law professor has said.
Professor Oran Doyle of Trinity College Dublin took to Twitter to criticise the Government’s behaviour concerning religious restrictions throughout the pandemic.
Citing an article in The Irish Times earlier this week, Prof. Doyle said Taoiseach Michéal Martin’s insistence that the “Government was not ‘anti-religious’ in any way,” and that the current restrictions were only a general legal precaution against indoor gatherings was “wrong on both counts”.
Prof. Doyle clarified that the new ban applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings, and that “untangling the legislative cross-references” showed that the latest ban “doesn’t capture anything new other than religious activity.
Prof. Doyle said “reasonable inference” is that the Government had two purposes: “Criminalise religious services” and “Conceal the first purpose by a bizarrely and unneccesarily convoluted set of legislative cross-references”.
While he welcomed the new clarity the Government had provided “from a rule of law perspective”, Prof. Doyle went on to say the “obfuscation (is) a damning indictment of Gov’s respect for citizens’ autonomy. Suggests preference for vaguely articulating standards, then tricking citizens into compliance through calculated ambiguity about the dividing line between legal obligations and public health advice”.
Meanwhile, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said in his meeting with Archbishop Eamon Martin that the recent Statutory Instrument was not intended to single out religious worship, but was designed to “regulate indoor and outdoor gatherings that might pose a risk”.