Seamus Woulfe ‘should get a good PR person to help him,’ former judge says

Seamus Woulfe ‘Should Get A Good Pr Person To Help Him,’ Former Judge Says
The Chief Justice and the Supreme Court had 'backed themselves into a corner,' Michael Patwell said. Picture: Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe.
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By Vivienne Clarke

Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe “should get a good PR person to help him,” former district court judge Michael Patwell has said.

The former judge told RTE radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that if he were in Mr Woulfe’s situation he would “let it play out” and not resign.

It follows the revelation last night that Chief Justice Frank Clarke told Mr Woulfe he believes he should resign over his attendance at the controversial golf society dinner now labelled “Golfgate”.

However, in an unprecedented crisis for the Supreme Court, Mr Woulfe has said he will not do so.

The Chief Justice and the Supreme Court had “backed themselves into a corner” over the matter, Mr Patwell said.

There was no law to back the stance taken by the other members of the Supreme Court, who have unanimously said that Mr Woulfe caused “significant and irreparable” damage to the court by how he handled the Golfgate controversy.



How would they sit with Judge Woulfe in the future, Mr Patwell asked.

Mr Pattwell said he could not see any efforts at impeachment succeeding, “political or otherwise.”

What had happened following the Oireachtas golf dinner in Clifden was “not serious enough” to warrant the resignation of the judge, he said.

However, he said both Mr Woulfe and former EU commissioner Phil Hogan had been “quite arrogant in how they handled it”.

The Chief Justice should not have “invented a sanction” that did not exist in law with regards to the resignation. He would have been better “keeping it to himself,” Mr Pattwell said.

There was nothing to back up what he said, it was just an opinion: “If I was Seamus Woulfe I would stay and let it play out.”

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All of what had transpired had come about because “Dara Calleary jumped too soon,” he said. “He set the tone then.”

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Mr Pattwell was referencing former agriculture minister Dara Calleary’s prompt resignation from Cabinet following his attendance at the golf dinner.

On the same programme, former minister Shane Ross also said that the Supreme Court had backed itself into a corner on the issue. Retired chief justice Susan Denham had been asked to conduct an investigation, but her recommendation had been ignored by Justice Clarke.

Politicians do not want to touch the issue, he said.

The Government has weighed in on the row, releasing a brief statement saying it had sought the advice of the Attorney General.

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