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Woulfe at the door Sinn Fein say Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe’s position is ‘untenable’

The Chief Justice has said Mr Justice Woulfe should quit over his attendance at a golf dinner.

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Séamus Woulfe has rejected a call for him to resign

Séamus Woulfe has rejected a call for him to resign

Séamus Woulfe has rejected a call for him to resign

Sinn Fein said Seamus Woulfe’s position as a Supreme Court judge is “untenable” after he lost the confidence of his colleagues in the judiciary.

The Attorney General is advising the Government on the crisis surrounding the judge.

It emerged in explosive letters released by the court that the Chief Justice said Mr Justice Woulfe should resign over his attendance at a controversial golf dinner in Galway.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke made the comments during a meeting, a position he then repeated in correspondence between the two men.

The judge, however, told the Chief Justice in the correspondence that he will not resign over the controversy.

The matter is now being reviewed by the Government.

Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein TD for Sligo, said the process is “fraught with difficulty”.

Mr Kenny said they will await any decisions from the Government as to how it will handle the matter.

“His position is clearly untenable when he has lost the confidence of his colleagues in the judiciary and that is clearly what they have said,” Mr Kenny said.

“We have a huge problem with the judiciary and how it is held to account.

“We find ourselves in a situation where we have a Chief Justice asking a Supreme Court judge to resign and then releasing the correspondence of what happened between them into the public domain.

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“Clearly he is putting it back on to the Oireachtas to come up with some solution to the problem, which is very difficult.

From the correspondence between Chief Justice and Justice Woulfe, it's clear that the judiciary don't believe his position is tenableMartin Kenny

“We have to step up to the mark and I think the Minister for Justice and the Government needs to make very clear what they are going to do in respect of that.

“We want that guidance to be shared with party leaders and the Oireachtas and to set forward what way this will be progressed from here, because clearly it’s a situation that won’t be allowed to continue.

“I think that any of us that read the correspondence between Chief Justice and Justice Woulfe, it’s clear that the judiciary don’t believe his position is tenable.

“There has to be accountability in the judiciary.”

Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain said it is a matter for the legislator to deal with.

Mr O Riordain said there is a space for all party leaders to have a discussion about what happens next.

“We will, until our last our breath, defend the independence of the judiciary and any Oireachtas member making comments about this issue has to be clear in his or her mind of the importance of that independence,” he added.

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Former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe (Niall Carson/PA)

Former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe (Niall Carson/PA)

Former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe (Niall Carson/PA)

“It’s not a matter for the Government, it’s a matter for the legislator, it’s a matter for the Oireachtas and every single member of the Oireachtas has to take their responsibility seriously.

“A process has now concluded, the process now moves to the Oireachtas and we shall take our time and take our counsel and review the situation with serious intent about maintaining that separation of powers.

“Clearly there is a space now for the Attorney General and the Taoiseach to have a conversations and for all party leaders to meet.”

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the gap in legislation in dealing with allegations of judicial misconduct has not been addressed.

“This is typical of what we do – we wait until there is a crisis,” she added.

“We are absolutely expert in creating a crisis and then going back to resolve them.

“It was obvious there was a gap and that gap should have been addressed, not in the last five years but a long time before that.”

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