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Seamus Woulfe's meeting with Chief Justice cancelled for fourth time due to medical reasons

The two judges were set to meet to discuss the ongoing fallout over the Golfgate dinner.

Chief Justice of Ireland Justice Frank Clarke (left) with Seamus Woulfe
Chief Justice of Ireland Justice Frank Clarke (left) with Seamus Woulfe
Image: Brian Lawless via PA Images

A MEETING BETWEEN Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe and the Chief Justice Frank Clarke has been postponed for the fourth time. 

The judges were due to discuss the ongoing fallout over Woulfe’s attendance at the controversial ‘Golfgate’ dinner in Clifden in August where 81 people gathered in what is viewed as a breach of the public health guidelines at the time.

The two judges were due to meet last Monday, but Woulfe requested a postponement until Friday for “personal reasons”, a statement from the courts service said.

A further postponement then took place on “medical grounds” until Tuesday. The meeting on Tuesday was again postponed until today. 

In a statement this afternoon, a spokesman for the Chief Justice confirmed today’s meeting will not go ahead as planned. 

“The Chief Justice was due to meet with Mr Justice Woulfe this afternoon. However, earlier today the Chief Justice received correspondence on behalf of Mr Justice Woulfe,” the spokesman said. 

While it is important for the Chief Justice to respect the confidentiality and privacy of Mr Justice Woulfe, the correspondence did enclose a cogent medical report to the effect that he is not in a position to take part in the resolution process at this time.  Accordingly, it was necessary to cancel the meeting.

“The Chief Justice is committed to bringing the process to a conclusion as early as it is possible and appropriate to do so.”

On Tuesday, a spokesman said the Chief Justice had made it clear that should today’s meeting not go ahead as scheduled, he would “make alternative arrangements to convey his final views on the process to Mr Justice Woulfe”. 

Denham report

Earlier this month, a review into Woulfe’s attendance at the dinner by former chief justice Susan Denham found it would be “unjust and disproportionate” for the judge to resign.

However, further controversy ensued after transcripts of an interview given by Woulfe to Denham in the course of the review were later released, and described media coverage of the scandal as “appalling” “overblown” and “fake”, with claims the social event was treated like the “Ku Klux Klan”.

Despite Woulfe issuing a statement where he apologised “unreservedly” for attending an event where breaches “may have occurred”, he said during this interview with Denham that though he apologised, he wasn’t sure what he had to apologise for.

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He said: “If it still is the case that there was intentional breach on my part I obviously apologise, still apologise and apologise again. But it is fair to say that it appears now, objectively, that there was no breach by the organisers, let alone by me.”

Woulfe also said that he felt sorry for “some of the unfortunate politicians” who “feel the need to confess to a crime they may not have committed”. Dara Calleary resigned as Minister for Agriculture and deputy leader of Fianna Fáil after attending the dinner in Clifden, while Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan resigned as EU Trade Commissioner.

In her report, Denham suggested that the fallout from the Golfgate controversy could be dealt with by way of an informal resolution. 

In July, Woulfe was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court – Ireland’s highest court – after he was replaced in his role as Attorney General by Paul Gallagher as part of the formation of a new government.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha

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