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Leo warns Fine Gael TDs told not to comment on Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe and Golfgate

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar has warned Fine Gael’s TDs and Senators to avoid commenting on the controversy surrounding Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe.

It came at a private meeting of the party where Mr Varadkar offered a brief update on the crisis telling colleagues the party leaders will meet to discuss the matter on Friday.

Mr Woulfe was told by Chief Justice Frank Clarke that the fallout from his attendance at the now infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway has damaged the Supreme Court and that it's his own view that he should resign.

Mr Woulfe has said he would accept sanctions like waiving his salary for three months but that he has come to the conclusion that he shouldn't resign.

Cabinet was told by the Attorney General that “serious constitutional issues” arise from the impasse.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl yesterday warned all TDs that they may ultimately have to adjudicate on the matter in accordance with the Constitution, legislation and Standing Orders.

He said this must conform with the "principles of basic fairness of procedures and the requirements of natural and constitutional justice.

"It is crucial, therefore, that Members do not comment on the matter, either on the floor of the House or elsewhere, in such a way as could give rise to a perception of bias because this could act as a serious impediment to their ability to discharge their important constitutional functions, if so required, in the future.”

Separately, the Fine Gael meeting agreed to seek Dáil and Seanad debates on the reopening of the country from Level 5 lock-down.

The current tough restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic are due to last until December 1.

Former Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the party should request time to make statements or hold a debate on planning for the period after Level 5 restrictions are lifted.

His motion at the parliamentary party meeting suggested it would offer an opportunity for TDs and Senators to put forward ideas for the next phase of managing the pandemic.

It calls for the debate to take place as soon as possible and the proposal was unanimously agreed by attendees at the meeting.

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