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Golfgate: Supreme Court orders report into Seamus Woulfe's attendance at event

Meanwhile, former Kildare junior minister Áine Brady has apologised for her attendance at the event.

Image: Sam Boal

Updated Aug 24th 2020, 7:26 PM

THE SUPREME COURT has asked former Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, to “consider certain questions” arising out of the attendance of Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe at the golfgate event.

In a statement this evening, it said that it had asked Denham to report her conclusions and recommendations to the Chief Justice.

“Ms Justice Denham has agreed to that request and will commence her work immediately,” said the statement.

Regarding what Denham is due to do, the Supreme Court said she “has been asked to consider whether Mr Justice Woulfe should have accepted the invitation to dinner”.

She will also be looking at other aspects of his attendance:

In addition, whether he should, in all the circumstances, have left the hotel in the light of the situation prevailing.
Furthermore, whether he should have attended the golf event without attending the dinner. In the context of those questions Ms Justice Denham has also been asked to consider whether there are any relevant codes of practice or guidelines and to make any recommendations in that regard which she considers appropriate.

The Supreme Court said that this non-statutory approach “has been necessitated because of the fact that relevant sections of the Judicial Council Act, 2019 have not yet been commenced”.

Questions have surrounded the attendance of Woulfe, who is the former Attorney General, at last week’s event in Clifden. The occasion, dubbed ‘golfgate’, saw around 81 people attending the Oireachtas Golf Society event.

Woulfe apologised “unreservedly” for attending the event.

The Taoiseach said today that Woulfe should not have attended the event.

“That’s a matter I think that the judiciary themselves have to look at. I don’t believe he should have been at that event in Clifden. The judicial arm of government will have to deal with this. The executive can’t deal with it,” said Martin when asked further about the issue. 

In a statement released last week, Woulfe said he was of the impression that the organisers of the event had made sure that the dinner would be in compliance with the regulations.

He said any breach of the regulations by him was unintended. He said that he regrets his attendance at the dinner.

Áine Brady

Meanwhile, former Kildare junior minister and ex-Fianna Fáil TD Áine Brady, who also attended the dinner, has said she wishes to “sincerely apologise”.

Brady was Minister of State for Older People from 2009 to 2011. 

She is currently the chief executive of Third Age, a voluntary organisation supporting older people. 

A statement issued by Third Age to Leinster Leader this afternoon said Brady “wishes to acknowledge and to sincerely apologise for attending the Oireachtas Golf Society event in Clifden on the 19th of August last”.

“She accompanied her husband Gerry, who had played in the tournament, to the Society function.

“As CEO of an organisation that supports older people in Ireland, Third Age is committed to improving the lives of older people through innovative and practical supports.”

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Brady added:

I am disappointed that my actions may have distracted from the tremendous work that the organisation does, and I will re-double my efforts to ensure that these programmes will continue to deliver positive outcomes for older people and communities in Ireland.

“I unreservedly apologises and deeply regret my attendance at last week’s event.”

The golf society dinner was held a day after the Taoiseach announced new measures, which included a further reduction in the numbers able to attend an indoor event from 50 down to six. 

- Additional reporting Christina Finn and Hayley Halpin

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