22 May 2022

Children's play review to get full hearing

Magherafelt solicitor Stephen Atherton has been challenging the Executive.

Children's play review to get full hearing

A legal challenge to the NI Executive's restrictions on youth sport has been scheduled for a full hearing next month.

Magherafelt-based Stephen Atherton, of John J McNally & Co Solicitors, has taken a judicial review into the restrictions on behalf of an eight-year-old footballer.

The decision was taken after the Department conceded Mr Atherton had an arguable case.

"Significant progress was made today in our challenge against the continued prohibition on children’s outdoor sport," said Mr Atherton.

"At the 11th hour, lawyers acting on behalf of the Department of Health conceded that we have presented an arguable case before the Court and the challenge will now move to a full expedited hearing on March 18."

While pursuing the review, Mr Atherton has again called on the Executive to lift the restrictions on youth sport immediately.

"Whilst we are obviously delighted at this development, we are acutely aware that the current restrictions imposed by the Executive, at the behest of the Department of Health, are inflicting significant physical and emotional harm on children, particularly in the absence of school attendance," he said.

"Accordingly we call on the NI Executive to allow all children to return immediately to the sporting arena, where they will find comfort, challenge and respite in physical exertion and the company of their friends."

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