Meeting between Chief Justice and Woulfe cancelled
Updated / Thursday, 15 Oct 2020 17:16
Legal Affairs Correspondent
The meeting between the Chief Justice and Supreme Court judge, Seamus Woulfe, over Judge Woulfe’s attendance at an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner, did not take place today as planned.
Chief Justice Frank Clarke said he had received a “cogent medical report” to the effect that Judge Woulfe was not in a position to take part in the resolution process at this time.
In a statement issued on his behalf, the Chief Justice said he had received the correspondence on behalf of Mr Justice Woulfe earlier today.
He said it was important for him to respect Judge Woulfe’s confidentiality and privacy, but it was necessary to cancel the meeting after receiving the report.
Mr Justice Clarke said he was committed to bringing the process to a conclusion as early as it was possible and appropriate to do so.
The meeting had been postponed three times already, at the request of Mr Justice Woulfe, on personal and medical grounds.
The two men were due to meet following the publication of the Denham review into Mr Justice Woulfe’s attendance at the dinner in Clifden, Co Galway on 19 August.
Former chief Justice Susan Denham said Judge Woulfe should not have gone to the dinner and was not vigilant about how it looked for a Supreme Court judge to attend a celebratory dinner in a public place in the middle of a pandemic.
However, she found he did not break any law or knowingly breach any public health regulations.
She said he was a new judge and calls for his resignation would be unjust and disproportionate. She recommended that the Chief Justice should resolve the matter informally.
The release of the transcript of the interview with Ms Justice Denham put further pressure on Mr Justice Woulfe.
The transcript showed a lack of insight into the perception of his attendance at the dinner.
Three senior judges met Mr Justice Woulfe the day after the report’s publication to outline the proposed method of resolving the issue, a meeting that is understood to have left Judge Woulfe “shocked” and “taken aback”.
He was due to meet the Chief Justice on 5 October, but asked to postpone the meeting on personal grounds.
Two further meetings were postponed and the Chief Justice had made it clear today’s meeting would be the final attempt to resolve the matter in this way.
However, the correspondence received today seems to have persuaded the Chief Justice that the matter must be further postponed.