Golfgate, but ‘Grave & serious’ — Seamus Woulfe turmoil engulfing Dail goes from bad to worse
‘Grave & serious’ — Seamus Woulfe turmoil engulfing Dail goes from bad to worse
Ministers were last night scrambling to find a solution to the Golfgate fallout involving the highest court in the land.© Provided by Extra.ie
The Taoiseach described as ‘grave and serious’ the case engulfing the most senior judge in Ireland, Frank Clarke, and Judge Séamus Woulfe.
Micheál Martin could still not say if the two Houses of the Oireachtas will have to be called to take impeachment proceedings.© Provided by Extra.ie
The Taoiseach described as ‘grave and serious’ the case engulfing the most senior judge in Ireland, Frank Clarke, and Judge Séamus Woulfe. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A crisis meeting with Opposition party leaders revealed that, 87 days after the Golfgate furore, TDs and senators will be forced to intervene to resolve the crisis.
Judge Woulfe has been at the centre of the storm since he attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden in August.
The event already prompted the resignation of senior minister Dara Calleary and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.
Chief Justice Clarke wrote to Judge Woulfe earlier this month urging him to resign but there is no indication this will happen.
And on Friday it emerged that, before Mr Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court – after serving the last Fine Gael-led government as attorney general – the present Cabinet, involving Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, was not told that other senior judges had applied for the post.© Provided by Extra.ie
A crisis meeting with Opposition party leaders revealed that, 87 days after the Golfgate furore, TDs and senators will be forced to intervene to resolve the crisis. Pic:: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Justice Minister Helen McEntee put forward Mr Woulfe’s name to ministers in the new Government in July. Now the Opposition has demanded she make statements on the appointments process, saying Mr Woulfe’s appointment raises ‘serious’ questions.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach tried to gain some control over the Woulfe-Golfgate controversy yesterday by meeting Opposition party leaders in a bid to find a consensus, but that broke up without agreement – and now the Opposition parties are seeking their own legal advice.
‘We hope this can be resolved in the Four Courts rather than in the Oireachtas,’ a frustrated Government source said after the meeting.
Ministers are now on ‘high alert’ amid fears socialist TD Paul Murphy will table a motion to force the impeachment proceedings, which can be done by any member of the Oireachtas.
Mr Murphy’s colleague, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Irish Daily Mail last night that consideration has to be given to impeachment but it was not the desired outcome.© Provided by Extra.ie
Ministers are now on ‘high alert’ amid fears socialist TD Paul Murphy will table a motion to force the impeachment proceedings. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins
Article 35.4 of the Constitution states that a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court shall not be removed from office except for ‘stated misbehaviour’ or incapacity, and only upon resolutions passed by the Dáil and by the Seanad.
Leaving the meeting last night, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she was yet to be convinced that impeachment was an option. The Attorney General Paul Gallagher did not attend the meeting.
A number of those present sought to have the unpublished correspondence between Judge Clarke and Judge Woulfe published.
Mr Martin said the meeting was to ‘get a sense’ of how they view the matter. And he warned: ‘I have to be extremely careful about what I say because if a motion of impeachment were to happen, I would be juror in that as an individual member (of the Oireachtas). It is very serious.’
Mr Martin, who replaced Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach in June, also said he had not been told that a number of other judges had written to the Government expressing an interest to fill the seat on the Supreme Court before Judge Woulfe’s appointment.© Provided by Extra.ie
A number of those present sought to have the unpublished correspondence between Judge Clarke and Judge Woulfe published. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins
It was reported yesterday that senior judges had expressed an interest in the role, however, the Cabinet was not made aware.
Labour leader Alan Kelly called on the justice minister to make statements on the process. He said that if Cabinet ministers had not been informed that there were other applicants it was ‘a very serious issue’.
A spokesman for Minister McEntee said that practice around appointments was that ‘only one name is brought to Cabinet by the proposing minister’.
They said: ‘JAAB [Judicial Appointments Advisory Board] decided to recommend one candidate, Séamus Woulfe, whom it considered suitable for appointment to the Supreme Court.
‘As is standard practice with judicial appointments, the Minister for Justice, having considered expressions of interest from serving members of the judiciary; other judges eligible for the position; and the recommendation of JAAB, then recommended a name to Cabinet in line with the JAAB recommendation.’