Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.47 14 Nov 2020


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The judiciary has thrown its dirty laundry at the Oireachtas to deal with regarding the Seamus Woulfe controversy, according to a law and politics expert.

There has been no agreement among party leaders about how to deal with the dispute surrounding the Supreme Court judge.

A two-hour meeting between party leaders concluded yesterday evening with the opposition now seeking their own independent legal advice.

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Further discussions are expected between the parties next week.

Mr Woulfe was among those who attended the controversial Oireacthas Golf Society dinner in August, with a review by former Chief Justice Susan Denham finding he should not be forced to resign over the scandal - saying that would be unjust and disproportionate.

However, Chief Justice Frank Clarke has told Mr Justice Woulfe to resign.

Dr Eoin O'Malley, Associate Professor in political science at the School of Law and Government in DCU, said the Oireachtas is not used to dealing with these kinds of problems.

He told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh that the issue was "very tricky" for the Oireachtas to deal with and that it was "not really clear that they want to navigate it".

He said: "It seemed clear from the people coming out, a lot of them were a bit unhappy that the judiciary is essentially throwing its dirty laundry over to the Oireachtas to deal with.

"The Oireachtas is now being asked to remove a judge who has done nothing wrong according to the Supreme Court's own investigation."

Dr O'Malley said it has been acknowledged that Mr Justice Woulfe didn't break any laws and he was "probably unwise to attend the dinner and extremely unwise in the way he has dealt with the problem".

He said: "He hasn't done anything that would normally make you want to remove a judge.

"The Oireachtas might take the view that he has shown himself to lack judgement which is presumably a component of being a judge.

"But equally the Chief Justice hasn't exactly covered himself in glory, he's lacked judgement in the ways he has released documents, he's probably lacked judgement in some of the language he's used about Seamus Woulfe.

"He's asked the Oireachtas to do something and he's effectively asked for one of his colleagues to be sacked even though he acknowledges himself he can't do that."

Dr O'Malley said this indicated that the issues have turned personal.

He said: "If you read the letters from the Chief Justice, it's like he has taken a dislike to Seamus Woulfe and just doesn't want to work with him.

"There are no formal mechanisms to deal with problems like that, and so there had been an informal mechanism.

"But the Chief Justice doesn't seem to have wanted to use that informal mechanism which had been suggested by Susan Denham, the former Chief Justice."

Main image: Seamus Woulfe at Aras an Uachtarain in 2017. Picture by: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Frank Clarke Golf Gate Judiciary Oireachtas Seamus Woulfe Susan Denham

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