The Woulfe Stands Martin down; Leo the Leak, and Poodle McEntee sit tight, and let the Lame Duck face the Storm of the powerful Woulfe? Alan Kelly wants Answers. Pigs will fly over Dail Eireann, and still Alan will be Waiting. In another way, one could clearly say, Woulfe stood down a Entire country, wonder what Dara and Big Phil are thinking this morning?

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Government proposes no further action be taken on Séamus Woulfe controversy

Micheál Martin and his ministers have decided against subjecting Mr Justice Woulfe to impeachment proceedings in the Dáil

Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe. Photo: Damien Eagers

Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe. Photo: Damien Eagers

November 17 2020 02:32 PM

The Cabinet has proposed that no further action be taken on the Supreme Court row over Justice Séamus Woulfe’s attendance at the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.

At a meeting this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and his ministers decided against subjecting Mr Justice Woulfe to impeachment proceedings in the Dáil.

The move pushes the controversy back into the Supreme Court where Mr Justice Woulfe is due to beginning sitting in February.

Last week, political leaders agreed the Oireachtas would seek legal advice on how to move forward on the issue caused by Chief Justice Frank Clarke saying he believed Mr Justice Woulfe should resign.

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But the Government is now proposing that no further action be taken on the controversy stemming from his attendance at the golf outing that led to the resignation of Phil Hogan as EU Commissioner and Dara Calleary as Agriculture Minister.

Opposition TDs can still table an impeachment motion but the Government’s decision suggests they would vote down any attempts to force Mr Justice Woulfe to resign.

RISE TD Paul Murphy and the five Solidarity-People Before Profit deputies are seeking legal advice to establish legal issues around the processes of impeachment and to ascertain whether any motion to remove Mr Justice Woulfe from office would have a reasonable chance of success.

Referring to the decision, Mr Martin outlined the Government decision to the Dáil.

He said: “The independence and the integrity of the judiciary is of paramount importance”.

He said it has played a “vital role” in the democratic and constitutional traditions of the state since its foundation and “has ensured respect for the rule of law which underpins those traditions.”

Mr Martin said: “The Government notes the informal process which was both transparent and comprehensive conducted by the judiciary to address the legitimate concerns arising from Mr Justice Woulfe’s attendance at the Oireachtas golf dinner in Clifden.

The government fully supports the Supreme Court and recognises the importance of protecting its collegiate nature and its concerned to maintain the highest standards.”

He added: “The Government notes the important distinction between a resignation and the deliberately high constitutional standard of removal for stated misbehaviour.

After very careful consideration and having listened to the Opposition leaders on this matter, the government believes the constitutional protection of the judiciary is best achieved in this particular case by taking no further steps in this matter.”

Mr Martin later said that he was speaking on the Government’s behalf and it’s a matter for the Oireachtas to decide how it wishes to proceed on the matter.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said everyone values the independence of the judiciary and this must be protected,

She said: “The judiciary chose an informal process of its own and it reported on the matter of justice Woulfe’s attendance at a golfing event in Clifden.

“I hear also your determination that the Oireachtas would take no further steps. Can I say, however, that the chief justice, expressing no confidence in a member of the bench remains problematic.

And I believe there ought to be some mediated solution to this particular issue.”

She also said that it’s “absolutely essential” that Justice Minister Helen McEntee faces separate questions about Mr Woulfe’s appointment as a Supreme Court judge.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Feargháil said that a debate on the process of selection would be within Dáil rules “provided we don’t stray into the area of personal suitability that would reflect on any individual that has been selected”. Ms McDonald said she accepts that.

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