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13.54 1 Oct 2020


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Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe should not be forced to resign over the Golfgate scandal.

That is the finding of a report into the former Attorney-General’s attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway in August.

Mr Justice Woulfe was one of 81 people to attend the highly controversial dinner at a hotel in Clifden.

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court asked former Chief Justice Susan Denham to look into his attendance.

Mr Justice Woulfe told her he only found out about the dinner on the day of the event, and he received assurances that it would comply with COVID-19 regulations.

He said about 45 people were in the room he dined in and he did not know there were more people from the same golf event in an adjoining room behind a wall.

He thought 50 people were allowed in an event and did not realise the Government had announced it was changing the regulations as he was on holidays and had switched off.

He said he was dumbfounded when he heard Dara Calleary had resigned as minister because of his attendance - and said he was racking his brain to see if there was something he had missed.

He said he apologised then for any unintentional breach of any guidelines.

Ms Justice Denham says Seamus Woulfe failed to consider how it looked for a Supreme Court judge to go to a celebratory dinner in the middle of a pandemic, and it would have been better if he did not go.

But she concludes he did not break the law and did not knowingly breach any guidelines - and should not have to resign as this would be unjust and disproportionate.

Public anger over COVID-19 breaches at the controversial dinner has led to the resignations of former Cabinet Minister Dara Calleary and former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Reporting from Stephanie Rohan


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