Ryanair has initiated legal proceedings against the Irish government over travel restrictions and the green list of countries deemed safe to travel to.
The airline, whose business has been decimated this year by the Covid-19 crisis, is asking the High Court for a judicial review of the Government decision that resulted in the production of the list.
The list, announced on July 22, contains just 15 countries and does not include the UK, Germany, France or Spain, all of which are major destinations on Ryanair’s network.
The airline argues the list was not provided for in legislation and has been put in place by the Government by way of public announcement, on a non-statutory basis.
It says that consequently, the Oireachtas was been denied the opportunity to consider the travel restrictions, and they have not been subjected to the democratic scrutiny, or the safeguards, checks and balances they should have been.
The proceedings, which were widely expected, were initiated on Thursday. Ryanair is being represented by ‘Big Five’ law firm Arthur Cox.
A Ryanair spokesman declined to discuss the case, saying: “We don’t comment on pending legal matters.”
Independent.ie has sought comment from the Government, which is continuing to advise against all non-essential foreign travel.
If people do travel to green list jurisdictions, they will not have to restrict their movements when they return to Ireland. People coming in from other countries are being asked to restrict their movements for 14 days.
The list is made up of jurisdictions where the incidence of Covid-19 is similar or lower than in Ireland and currently comprises Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Monaco, San Marino and Gibraltar.
In a submission to the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response earlier this week, Ryanair claimed Ireland was “on a solo run” in relation to travel restrictions.
“We have now cut ourselves off from the largest economies in Europe, Germany, France, UK, Spain, Austria, Netherlands, Poland, and telling them that Ireland is closed for business,” it said.
In particular it described the decision to exclude Germany from the list as puzzling, saying the Covid-19 death rate there per head of population was 70pc less than Ireland’s and the German response had been “recognised as the gold standard” in terms of track and trace, localised lockdowns and the volume of testing.
The submission claimed Ireland’s policy on foreign travel was unjustified and completely disproportionate to the risk.
It claimed there was no clarity on what scientific evidence there was to support the travel restrictions or the green list.
The airline also criticised the restrictions as providing “no defined guidelines” for those who need to travel.
It said it was not clear what is permitted by “essential travel,” or the extent to which people are required to restrict their movements.