Supreme Court receives report into judge Seamus Woulfe's attendance at Golfgate event

Reports last month of Mr Woulfe’s recruitment of a senior lawyer were taken in legal circles as the former attorney general “digging in to fight his corner.
Supreme Court receives report into judge Seamus Woulfe's attendance at Golfgate event

Judge Woulfe, who is the former Attorney General from the previous government, has been the subject of significant criticism given his presence at the event which ran in breach of Covid-19 guidelines. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins golfgate

The report into the attendance of Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe at the ‘Golfgate’ event in Clifden in August has been submitted by former chief justice Susan Denham.

Judge Woulfe, who is the former Attorney General from the previous government, has been the subject of significant criticism given his presence at the event which ran in breach of Covid-19 guidelines.

In a statement, the Supreme Court, led by chief justice Frank Clarke, has said it has received the report, is considering it and will make a statement on the matter in “early course”.

“The Supreme Court confirms that, in the course of this afternoon, it received the report of Ms. Justice Denham into the attendance by Mr. Justice Woulfe at an event in the west of Ireland in August. The Supreme Court has made a copy of the report available to Mr. Justice Woulfe. The Supreme Court is considering the report and will issue a further statement in early course,” the statement said.

Reports last month of Mr Woulfe’s recruitment of a senior lawyer were taken in legal circles as the former attorney general “digging in to fight his corner.

Legal sources interpreted Mr Justice Woulfe’s decision to retain Michael Collins SC as the judge preparing to defend himself in the review. Ms Denham’s review examined his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner on August 19.

The dinner, attended by more than 80 people, went ahead despite Covid-19 public health guidelines that limit indoor gatherings.

Controversy around the event, revealed in the Irish Examiner, led to the resignations of Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and saw several senators lose their party whip.

In the immediate aftermath, Judge Woulfe apologised unreservedly for his attendance.

He 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.

“I confirm that I attended one day of the Oireachtas Golf Society outing in Ballyconneally on Wednesday 19 August, as an invited guest. I was not aware in advance that there was going to be an organised dinner as part of the event.

“On learning of the proposed dinner during the course of that day, my understanding was that the organisers and the hotel had satisfied themselves that they would be operating within Government public health guidelines.

“I attended based on that understanding, that it would be within the guidelines, but do apologise for any unintentional breach of any of the new guidelines on my part.

“I would never disregard governmental or health authorities advice regarding public health, and have been at pains to follow rules and guidelines since their introduction in March. That I ended up in a situation where breaches may have occurred, is of great regret to me, and for which I am sorry. I unreservedly apologise”.

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