A mother in County Armagh is launching legal proceedings against the decision to keep schools in the North open despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
Schools south of the border are set to remain closed until March 29th at the earliest; however, the Department of Education in the North is following UK guidance with pupils returning for school this morning.
The mother behind the legal challenge has warned that her child has underlying health problems, including asthma.
The family’s solicitor Darragh Mackin told Newstalk that he will be arguing that it is unlawful to keep schools open given the current situation.
“Had they been no more than 20 or 30 miles further south, the child would not be put at such risk or put into the danger this child will face,” he said.
“For those reasons, we say that the decision in any event is plainly irrational and it is unreasonable and for those reasons the court should intervene.”
He said the guidance issued by the UKs Public Health Agency is ‘outdate, inadequate and does not provide children with the necessary safeguards’ against the virus.
He said parents in the North are still legally obliged to send their children to school.
“The problems that the parents are faced with is that they must be complying with what is required here, that the child attend school,” he said.
“If a parent deliberately excludes a child from school, they themselves can be the subject of an investigation.
“For those reasons, we say there is an urgency about these proceedings.”
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Please be responsible & follow the advice.
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Meanwhile, the decision is set to be challenged at a political level when the Stormont Executive meets this morning.
Sinn Féin and the SDLP are now calling for schools to be immediately shut, while the DUP and UUP have said they support the wider UK approach.
According to the latest figures there are now 45 cases of COVID-19 in the North and 169 in the Republic – a total of 214 on the island of Ireland.
You can find all the information you need on how to protect yourself and others on the HSE website.