Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.03 23 Nov 2020


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A motion to start a process to impeach Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe is the 'only option' open to opposition TDs to ensure accountability, RISE TD Paul Murphy says.

Deputy Murphy is bringing forward the motion in the Dáil this week, which - if passed - would allow TDs to begin examining whether Mr Justice Woulfe should be removed or not.

It comes after Mr Woulfe's refusal to resign from the court over the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner controversy.

Government has also confirmed it will take no action against the judge.

It's unclear whether there's enough support in Leinster House for an impeachment motion to pass.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Murphy said he believes it's important there is accountability.

He said: "Let's see how the vote goes.

"Let's remember this is just a vote not to remove Seamus Woufle as Supreme Court judge - it's a vote to begin the process to examine whether he should be removed or not."

'We didn't rush into this'

The RISE TD said the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner that Mr Justice Woulfe attended was in breach of public health regulations.

He observed: "It is up to the Oireachtas - [per] the Constitution - to decide what constitutes stated misbehaviour and what doesn't. Certainly the argument that I, Brid Smith and our colleagues will be making is that it does.

"What he did at a time when people were unable to go to funerals of loved ones... at a time when some people were jailed for breaking the COVID regulations... at a time when people's lives were disrupted in such a fundamental way... what he did undermined that public effort quite substantially."

Deputy Murphy said the motion has been prompted not just by the judge's attendance at the dinner, but also his response to the criticism.

He suggested: "What happened in terms of Seamus Woulfe and that Golf Society event was in my opinion a very flagrant breach of the regulations.

"We didn't rush into this. Seamus Woulfe obviously refused to resign, as is his right. The Government then said they're not going to do anything about it.

"That left us with a choice whereby he's either going to return to the Supreme Court bench early next year, or we would take the only option open to us."

Main image: File photo of Paul Murphy. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

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