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Helen McEntee defends Woulfe appointment but admits Varadkar said he’d make ‘a good judge’

  6 hrs ago


IHelen McEntee defends Woulfe appointment but admits Varadkar said he’d make ‘a good judge’

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has revealed that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had informally told her that Seamus Woulfe would ‘make a good judge’.a man and a woman wearing a suit and tie© Provided by Extra.ie

Ms McEntee was answering questions on the appointment of Woulfe as a Supreme Court judge back in July.

The Justice Minister had said there were five expressions of interest for the job on top of the name put forward by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB).a woman smiling for the camera: Justice Minister Helen McEntee has revealed that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had informally told her that Seamus Woulfe would ‘make a good judge’. Pic: Oireachtas TV© Provided by Extra.ie Justice Minister Helen McEntee has revealed that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had informally told her that Seamus Woulfe would ‘make a good judge’. Pic: Oireachtas TV

When asked if the Tánaiste’s comment that the former Attorney General would make a good judge ‘weighed heavily on her mind’, Ms McEntee replied that she ‘of course took that on board’.

‘I learnt that Seamus had come through the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB). I did have a conversation informally with my colleague, with the Tánaiste,’ the minister said.

‘He informed me himself that there was a vacancy and that Seamus Woulfe had come through that process. I informed him that I was already aware of that.Leo Varadkar et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: When asked if the Tánaiste’s comment that the former Attorney General would make a good judge ‘weighed heavily on her mind’, Ms McEntee replied that she ‘of course took that on board’. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie When asked if the Tánaiste’s comment that the former Attorney General would make a good judge ‘weighed heavily on her mind’, Ms McEntee replied that she ‘of course took that on board’. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

‘He also informed me or I suppose gave a view that he thought Seamus would be a good judge.’

She added that Mr Varadkar’s comment had not told her that Woulfe’s appointment ‘was to be the case’.

Ms McEntee said that she made the recommendation based on who she thought ‘was the best person for the job’.a woman standing in front of a building: Ms McEntee said that she made the recommendation based on who she thought ‘was the best person for the job’. Pic: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie Ms McEntee said that she made the recommendation based on who she thought ‘was the best person for the job’. Pic: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

She has said the Government acted appropriately at all times in the current process of appointing a judge to the Supreme Court.

However, the minister added that the current system for appointing judges is not perfect.

In response to Ms McEntee’s revelation that she had discussed Woulfe with Mr Varadkar, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said: ‘The very fact that there was an informal discussion is an intrusion in the process.Catherine Murphy wearing a blue shirt: In response to Ms McEntee’s revelation that she had discussed Woulfe with Mr Varadkar, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said: ‘The very fact that there was an informal discussion is an intrusion in the process. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins© Provided by Extra.ie In response to Ms McEntee’s revelation that she had discussed Woulfe with Mr Varadkar, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said: ‘The very fact that there was an informal discussion is an intrusion in the process. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘It is pretty much saying, “I’d really like to see this person appointed”.’

Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin TD said that there had always been ‘detailed discussions’ about judicial appointments throughout his time in coalition governments.

‘The names of all suitable candidates were circulated and considered by the leaders of each party in government, detailed papers were presented to each leader and a consensus eventually arrived at. Your position minister is that this process was set aside,’ he said.Brendan Howlin wearing a suit and tie: Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin TD said that there had always been ‘detailed discussions’ about judicial appointments throughout his time in coalition governments. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin TD said that there had always been ‘detailed discussions’ about judicial appointments throughout his time in coalition governments. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

‘That you alone made the decision and then presented that decision to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Ryan as a done deal.’

The question and answer comes after two weeks of pressure from the Opposition for Ms McEntee to outline the process she took to recommend the appointment of Mr Justice Woulfe to the Supreme Court.

Mr Justice Woulfe became embroiled in controversy after his attendance at the infamous Oireachtas Golfing Society dinner came to light back in August.a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: The Denham report has not recommended that Seamus Woulfe should resign. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins© Provided by Extra.ie The Denham report has not recommended that Seamus Woulfe should resign. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins

He has refused to resign over the incident despite a call from Chief Justice Frank Clarke for him to do so. 

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