Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.33 6 Nov 2020


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Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe met with Chief Justice Frank Clarke on Thursday to discuss his attendance at an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in August.

It comes after the meeting was cancelled four times at Mr Justice Woulfe's request.

The Supreme Court Justice was one of 81 people to attend the controversial dinner at a hotel in Clifden.

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The Courts Service has made no comment on what his future might be, following calls for him to resign.

Shane Phelan, legal affairs editor with the Irish Independent, told Newstalk Breakfast the silence is unusual.

"We would have expected a statement to be issued directly afterwards, but somewhat unusually we now gather that it's probably going to be next week before there is a formal statement issued.

"And this would all seem to suggest that Mr Woulfe's position as a Supreme Court judge is somewhat under pressure, and that there maybe matters that were discussed at the meeting which would need to be considered further in the coming days before a formal statement is issued".

A report last month into Mr Justice Woulfe's attendance at the controversial event found that he should not have gone, but he should not be made resign.

Former Chief Justice Susan Denham said Mr Justice 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 concluded 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.

Shane Phelan explained: "She recommended what's called informal resolution - which could be anything really from some sort of admonishment to him being asked to make a further public apology.

"As part of that process, he was visited by three judges, and we know that that meeting did not go well.

"We know that there was quite a degree of unhappiness expressed to him at this handling of the situation.

"And we also know that Seamus Woulfe was pretty shocked by what his colleagues had to say.

"This is creating quite a problem for the Supreme Court because it's a collegial court - the judges all need to be getting along.

"And if they're not, then it can be difficult for the court office".

The 'Golfgate' scandal led to the resignations of Dara Calleary as agriculture minister and Phil Hogan as Ireland's EU Commissioner. 

While Senator Jerry Buttimer also resigned as Leas-Cathaoirleach of the Seanad for attending the same event.

Main image: Séamus Woulfe on his appointment as Attorney General, 19-06-2017. Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

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