Cabinet rules out action against Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe

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Séamus Woulfe said he does not intend to step down from the Supreme Court over controversy surrounding his attendance at an Oireachtas golf society dinner in August. File photo
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The Government has agreed that it will not take any further action against Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe.

The decision was taken at Cabinet this morning, according to The Irish Times, and effectively rules out an impeachment motion being moved by the Government.

While an Opposition party can still make such a move, the decision makes it likely the solution to the impasse is within the judicial system.

The possibility of the Oireachtas beginning impeachment proceedings against Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe came about after the decision of Chief Justice Frank Clarke to publish correspondence in which he said his colleague should resign.

'Golfgate'

Mr Justice Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court in July 2020.

He said he does not intend to step down over controversy surrounding his attendance at an Oireachtas golf society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway on August 19th, a day after the Government tightened Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings.

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The Government had resisted Opposition efforts to force questions on the matter, partially on the basis it could prejudice any impeachment process.

The Government was facing mounting pressure to facilitate a question and answer session with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on the appointment of Mr Justice Woulfe to the court.

Ireland
The full letters between Chief Justice Frank Clark...
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In addition to blocking efforts to force a Dáil debate on the issue, the Government is also unlikely to seek the release of further correspondence between Mr Justice Woulfe and the Chief Justice over the so-called 'Golfgate' incident.

The publication of letters between the two judges last week, including the personal view of the Chief Justice that his colleague should resign, brought the ongoing controversy over Mr Justice Woulfe’s response to the golf society dinner incident to a head.

In the Dáil this evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin faced criticism from opposition leaders regarding the Cabinet's decision.

Labour leader Alan Kelly called on Mr Woulfe to answer questions in the Dáil, dismissing the Government's refusal that such measures are not necessary.

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