McEntee ‘called all three Coalition leaders’ about Woulfe recommendation
Justice Minister Helen McEntee. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
November 24 2020 02:30 AM
Justice Minister Helen McEntee says she called all three Coalition leaders to tell them she would be recommending that Séamus Woulfe be appointed to the Supreme Court.
She stated that Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan agreed with her recommendation. However, she also acknowledged that they have since said they were not aware three judges had expressed an interest in the role.
Ms McEntee rejected opposition suggestions that she acted in contravention of the Cabinet handbook in not telling them about the other expressions of interest.
Mr Woulfe has been at the centre of controversy over his attendance at the ‘Golfgate’ dinner.
Solidarity TD Paul Murphy has signalled his intention to bring a motion seeking to impeach Mr Woulfe to the Dáil this week. However, it has no chance of being passed.
The Taoiseach has said the Government will oppose such a move and much of the opposition don’t believe Mr Woulfe’s actions meet the threshold for such a motion to be successful.
Separate questions have been raised about how Mr Woulfe was appointed to the Supreme Court and how he got the job ahead of three serving judges. Ms McEntee has been under pressure to make a Dáil statement and take questions on the matter.
The Government has suggested bringing forward her next justice questions to allow the opposition to ask her about the issue.
However, this has been rejected as, under the proposed format, the questions would have to be submitted in advance and other unrelated justice issues could also be raised.
Sinn Féin last night called for the Dáil business committee to consider the matter and it may well be the subject of another row during the order of business today.
Ms McEntee was grilled about the appointment process on LMFM’s The Michael Reade Show.
She said the Taoiseach, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Mr Ryan, along with Attorney General Paul Gallagher, received phone calls from her when she was recommending Mr Woulfe for the job.
She outlined how Mr Varadkar said he was aware there were other names for the Supreme Court job but he was not aware of who they were.
She said all four of her Cabinet colleagues agreed with her recommendation of Mr Woulfe.
Ms McEntee insisted she “stuck rigidly” to the appointment process, adding: “The [Cabinet] handbook is very clear. I have adhered to it.”