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Justice minister to face Dáil questions on Woulfe Supreme Court appointment today

It comes following a heated row between the government and the opposition.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

JUSTICE MINISTER HELEN McEntee will face questions in the Dáil regarding the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court this afternoon.

It follows a heated row between the government and the opposition over the plans for the debate, which will see oral statements followed by a 35-minute questions and answers session.

With only five minutes allotted for each party spokesperson, TDs accused the government of attempting to “shield” McEntee from questions about the controversial appointment. 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the coalition continues to dodge accountability, while Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats asked what the government is “trying to hide?”

McEntee, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar all vociferously opposed the process, citing the separation of powers between the legislature and the judicial system.

“The Government continues to have grave concerns around the manner of debate the opposition is seeking and the effect it could have on the independence of the judiciary,” a spokesperson for McEntee said. 

The stance has been roundly dismissed by opposition TDs, with Labour’s Alan Kelly labelling it “bogus”.

Woulfe was nominated to the Supreme Court in mid-July, a number of weeks after the Fianna Fail-Fine Gael-Green Party government was formed. 

The former Attorney General’s name was the only one McEntee put forward to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader for approval, only three weeks after she was appointed as minister.

He was proposed to the minister by the independent Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, which assessed him as being suitable for the job, while three sitting judges registered their expressions of interest through the attorney general’s office.

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The 58-year-old attended the “golfgate” event in Clifden in August when members of the Oireachtas’ golf society gathered for a dinner organised in variance with Covid-19 rules.

He refused to resign over his handling of the incident despite a call from chief justice Frank Clarke to quit.

With reporting by PA

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Ceimin Burke

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