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Golf dinner judge’s meeting with Chief Justice postponed again

Seamus Woulfe sent the Chief Justice giving a ‘cogent medical report’ outlining why he could not attend.

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The Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway, Ireland where The Oireachtas Golf Society event was held (Hany Marzouk/AP)

The Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway, Ireland where The Oireachtas Golf Society event was held (Hany Marzouk/AP)

The Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway, Ireland where The Oireachtas Golf Society event was held (Hany Marzouk/AP)

A meeting between Ireland’s Chief Justice and Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe over the latter’s attendance at a controversial golf dinner has been postponed again.

The fourth postponement came after Justice Woulfe sent Chief Justice Frank Clarke correspondence that contained a “cogent medical report” outlining why he was unable to participate.

The planned meeting is part of a resolution process emanating from a report investigating the decision to attend the golf event amid coronavirus guidance against large indoor gatherings.

Mr Justice Woulfe, a former attorney general who was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in July, faced criticism after it emerged he was among 81 guests who attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in the west of Ireland in August.

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Seamus Woulfe (Niall Carson/PA)

Seamus Woulfe (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Seamus Woulfe (Niall Carson/PA)

A spokesman for Chief Justice Woulfe said: “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.

“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.”

Former chief justice Susan Denham, who carried out the report on Mr Justice Woulfe’s attendance at the dinner, said he did not break any law or knowingly breach any Covid-19 guidelines.

She found that Mr Justice Woulfe did “nothing involving impropriety” that would justify calls for his resignation.

She added that such a step would be “unjust and disproportionate”.

Ms Justice Denham said it was reasonable for Mr Justice Woulfe to rely on the assurances of the event’s organisers and from his own observations that it complied with the Covid-19 regulations.

However, she said that Mr Justice Woulfe did not consider the dinner invitation from the point of view of his new status as a Supreme Court judge and in this regard he was “not sufficiently vigilant”.

She found there was no breach of law committed by Mr Justice Woulfe and that his attendance at the dinner did not breach the principle of the separation of powers.

PA