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MEETING POSTPONED Medical report says Woulfe unable to take part in 'Golfgate' resolution process

The two men had been due to meet today to discuss the matter, but following a letter from Mr Justice Woulfe this was postponed.

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CC DAIL CENTENARY EVENT...21/01/2019 Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe SC during a Daill100 event to commemorate the centenary of the First Dáil at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

CC DAIL CENTENARY EVENT...21/01/2019 Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe SC during a Daill100 event to commemorate the centenary of the First Dáil at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

CC DAIL CENTENARY EVENT...21/01/2019 Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe SC during a Daill100 event to commemorate the centenary of the First Dáil at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe has submitted a medical report which states he is currently unable to take part in a process to resolve the ‘Golfgate’ controversy.

The development was disclosed in a statement issued on behalf of Chief Justice Frank Clarke on this afternoon.

The two men had been due to meet today to discuss the matter, but following a letter from Mr Justice Woulfe this was postponed.

It was the fourth time such a meeting was scheduled, only to end up being deferred at the request of the embattled former Attorney General.

The statement 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.”

Details of the illness were not disclosed and it is unclear when Mr Justice Woulfe will be well enough to take part in the “informal resolution” process recommended by former Chief Justice Susan Denham.

The tone of the statement was noticeably different from one issued on Tuesday, where Mr Justice Clarke gave an ultimatum to his Supreme Court colleague.

That statement said the Chief Justice had made it clear that if Mr Justice Woulfe did not turn up today, he would “make alternative arrangements to convey his final views on the process” to him.

It also said the Chief Justice was seriously concerned about the damage the continuation of the process was causing.

The latest development means the Supreme Court remains embroiled in controversy two months on from the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway.

A report delivered a fortnight ago by Ms Justice Denham found Mr Justice Woulfe failed to reflect on whether his attendance at a celebratory event in the middle of a pandemic might cause controversy and bring the Supreme Court into disrepute.

But she also found it would be “unjust and disproportionate” for him to have to resign and recommended the Chief Justice deal with the issue by way of “informal resolution”.

Lawyers have speculated this may involve a warning or admonishment of Mr Justice Woulfe or that he may be asked to issue a further public apology.

However, Ms Justice Denham’s report failed to draw a line under the controversy.

A transcript of an interview she conducted with Mr Justice Woulfe was later released and this gave rise to further questions about his judgment.

It revealed he lashed out at the media and the reaction of politicians, including Taoiseach Michéal Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

It also became clear that although he had issued an apology in August, Mr Justice Woulfe did not believe he had breached any Covid-19 guidelines.

A report produced by an engineer retained by Mr Justice Woulfe argued the dinner event “conformed substantially” with requirements.

The dinner involved two groups, one of 45 and another of 36, dining in adjoining rooms, separated by a partition.

Mr Justice Woulfe insisted he was unaware of the second group or that a gap was opened in the partition for speeches and prize giving.

He also believed Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary, who resigned over his attendance at the dinner, was forced to do so “on a false premise”.

On the same day the transcript was published, three senior judges went to visit Mr Justice Woulfe and expressed concerns over how he had handled the whole affair.

The meeting was to discuss what the informal resolution might entail, but it is understood that it did not go well.

Mr Justice Woulfe was said to be “shocked” by what the judges had to say.

He was due to meet Mr Justice Woulfe a few days later, but that meeting never took place and following a fourth postponement it is unclear when it now will.

Independent.ie