Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.49 17 Nov 2020


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The Taoiseach has been accused of "running scared" by refusing opposition demands for Justice Minister Helen McEntee to answer questions in the Dáil over the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court.

It comes as Government defends the process that led to the selection of the judge.

The Government today confirmed it is going to take no action against Mr Justice Woulfe over his attendance at the Golfgate dinner and the ensuing row within the judiciary.

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Within Leinster House, the row has now moved to centre around his appointment and whether a proper process was followed by Minister McEntee.

Opposition parties have raised questions about why Taoiseach Micheál Martin wasn't told there were other applicants for the job when Mr Justice Woulfe was made a Supreme Court judge.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Justice Committee earlier, Minister McEntee defended the process.

She said: "After a number of weeks, I looked at the recommendation that had been made and other expressions of interest.

"Following that, I spoke with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Minister [Eamon] Ryan and the [Attorney General]. On foot of that, a recommendation was made and a name was given to Cabinet."

However, Labour leader Alan Kelly has dismissed the Government's arguments against the need for the Justice Minister to answer questions on the issue in the Dáil.

He insists his party will continue to press for answers over the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Government's refusal to allow questions doesn't make sense.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, he said: "[The Taoiseach] again cited the separation of powers.

"Judicial appointments are made by the Executive... the Executive is held to account by the Dáil. How in the name of God does that have anything to do with an issue preventing her from coming into the Dáil? It's completely bogus.

"In fact, in reality the questioning of her in the Dáil is actually part of the separation of powers, and the very reason we should do it."

Deputy Kelly claimed it's "absolutely certain" the Taoiseach is "running scared" by preventing Minister McEntee from answering questions in the Chamber.

Main image: File photo of Labour leader Alan Kelly. Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

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